The Sri Lanka Broadband Forum 2017: Part 02


Continuing on our day at the Sri Lanka Broadband Forum 2017, next up we had a panel discussion. The topic? Revolving around the primary concept of Open Roads to a Better Connected Sri Lanka by Infrastructure Sharing. Consisting of several industry experts in their relevant fields, the discussion addressed a number of important questions. The first was how we can live in a rich country.

The panel discussion at the Sri Lanka Broadband Forum

The answers? Well, All of the panelists agreed that we definitely need innovation, automation and application. We need to make technologies available and it is our responsibility to provide all the resources to see this through. Amila Rajapaksha from the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka emphasized that we need to collaboratively share everything. He explained that the Commission is working on a project where CEB and LeCo would distribute Broadband via the power suppliers infrastructure.

Wasantha Deshapriya, the Secretary to the MTDI outlined 3 plans that they are working on with the ICT Industry, of which Broadband is the main one. There are many obstacles for infrastructure sharing but there are facilitations to be done. Mr. Wasantha explained that they are implementing the Lanka Government Network 2.0. Their primary target is tower sharing and infrastructure sharing.

Mr Wasantha Deshapriya, Secretary – MTDI

Sameer Sharma, Senior Advisor – ITU Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific spoke about new innovative ways for Sri Lanka to develop its infrastructure. We need to be realistic, Sameer said. He also explained that we need to know what technologies will drive what innovations. By doing that, we can work on these sectors to ensure that our vision 2025 is a reality.

If the infrastructure is shared, there are certain conditions that must be met such as safety and efficiency. Once all these are met, then the sharing can begin. Still, even with all these facilities, the people using should have the required knowledge on how to use it. For example, downloading an application form and submitting it online is pointless if the user has no email address and/or has no knowledge of how to create one.

Following lunch, we had David Webber

David, a Global Public Safety Expert spoke to us on secure living in a connected metropolis. This has its own set of pros and cons. There have to be services such as collaborative public safety. By using the cloud and connected devices, we can build a safer tomorrow.

In terms of communication, we have internet/social media/applications and a call center. By means of technologies such as LTE and broadband and information coming from video and drones, we can establish communication in hard to reach areas and thus communicate that via the cloud. With regard to communication, there are some factors to consider such as Spectrum. This is a limited resource. He too touched on the 700Mhz spectrum and went onto explain that video is the next generation of content.

David Webber, Global Public Safety Expert addressing the audience.

With regard to information for a secure and smart city, a combination of video, social media, big data, IoT/Sensors, drones, city services plus open data together with relevant APIs would be required. You would also need geospatial mapping to see your city.

Using an example of Suzhou, China, David spoke about how the city had 1400 active police officers and a population of 1.5. Million. By implementing a video monitoring platform to monitor all crimes, the crime rate in the city decreased by 45%. The offset to this was that they now needed around 1600 video analysts to monitor the feed and flag any illegal or suspicious activity.. This also resulted in the crime rate around the city rising as thieves and robbers moved on to other cities.

To get to where Suzhou is, we need partnering and teamwork. We also need to improve communication capabilities, combining public and private equipment, shared resources and finally a open platform and open community. You can think big and act small. You need command and control, communication and the cloud. You also need intelligence or analytics, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

In short, we need to maximise Sri Lankan police resources, create a modern police force with citizen engagement, develop better emergency response capabilities, secure a growing future for Sri Lanka tourism, create a transitional path to a digital Government and digital economy, implement cost-effective pragmatic approaches and be community empowered. All this takes a team in order to succeed

Wasantha Weerakoon, COO of Tech One Global (Pvt) Ltd was on stage next

He began his presentation by speaking on something slightly different: Global warming. He spoke about how Nature is going against us because of what we’re doing to Nature. He spoke about outsourcing as a solution for risk mitigation by keeping your date secure in an offsite location.

Wasantha Weerakoon COO – Tech One Global (Pvt) Ltd addressing the audience

He then went on to give examples of outsourcing in Sri Lanka where 4 million documents were digitized. The documents had to be transported from Colombo to rural areas and back. In terms of the BPO industry, bandwidth is the king. It is one of the key priorities for companies. Using an example of his internet connection to different servers, he showed how companies that need to access documents in other countries would go bankrupt merely trying to connect to their service. As such, he urged Telcos to improve the quality of their servers when connecting to other countries.

He also touched on another topic: the average person spends 3 hours in traffic in Colombo. There are 1,8 million passengers coming and going out of Colombo each day. You can reduce one hour of that traffic by reducing 1/10 of the people who come into Colombo. That will ease the traffic. In order to optimize national productivity, we need to work on policy bandwidth and access. His question? Despite all the talks about resource and infrastructure sharing, when does it all happen?

Dr. Kanishka Karunasena spoke on Diffusion of e-Government and Broadband

More specifically, he spoke about Sri Lanka’s place in global context. He spoke about the current broadband penetration globally and the trends with regard to fixed broadband and WBB. He then spoke about the increase of bandwidth and also the drop in telecommunication revenues. He then spoke about the discrepancies between the availability and affordability of broadband.

Dr. Kanishka Karunasena addressing the audience

He then spoke about e-Government where this is the delivery of Government information and services through the internet. He then spoke about the trends in online transactional services, supply and demand sides of e-Govt, and the relationship between Broadband penetration and the demand for e-Govt, along with the measures taken to benchmark e-Govts. According to these benchmarks, Sri Lanka was ranked 79 out of 190 countries. For the record, Bangladesh is 124th, and Bhutan 133rd.The benchmarks take into account the following:

  • Online services index
  • Human capital index
  • Telecommunication infrastructure index

He then went into graph views of Fixed broadband, narrowband, and mobile broadband subscriptions in Sri Lanka. With regard to the Internet, Sri Lanka is indeed growing.

How do we enable a Digital Era with Mobile Money?

Presented by Xu Weixing, Vice President of Marketing & Solutions Sales Dept, Southeast Asia Region, the last presentation for the day was about how mobile money is changing the world. It is indeed a new lifestyle in China. He spoke about the key events for China’s Mobile payment history. Using examples of AliPay he explained the history of mobile payment in China and how it revolutionized how they carry out payments. Currently, mobile payment is everywhere in China.

Waruna Sri Dhanapala addressing the audience

Finally, he says, Mobile money is not just a business, but a responsibility of a company to accelerate national development. It helps to boost GDP, promote industry, put an end to poverty and perhaps even end world hunger.

That brought an end to all the presentations at the Sri Lanka Broadband Forum 2017. Waruna Sri Dhanapala– Senior Assistant Secretary (ICT for Development), Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure) was up on stage to deliver the closing remarks. He thanked all the speakers for sharing their valuable knowledge with the audience. In closing, he emphasized that we all have a responsibility to share what we know to bring about a better connected Sri Lanka.


  1. All this talk about doing this and doing that.. digital money. First give the consumers unlimted highspeed internet packages, like all the other developed countries.


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