The Internet is something we Sri Lankans tend to complain about almost regularly. Whether it’s inadequate data limits or simply poor technical support, there are a lot of issues with our internet connections. Yet, despite all the complaints we make, our Internet connections are actually pretty good compared to the rest of the world. Earlier this year Sri Lanka was ranked 47 amongst the top 50 broadband countries in the world ahead of Malaysia closely followed by Thailand in average Internet speeds. Sri Lanka is also known to have some of the cheapest data packages in the Asian region.
Come 2016 that might all change. According to Daily Mirror, Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), Sunil S. Sirisena has taken the decision of terminating the contract of Sanath Siriwardena, a consultant at the TRCSL who was behind the National Broadband Initiative (NBI). In case you’re lost, the National Broadband Initiative was carried out by the TRCSL to monitor the quality of service offered by internet providers and ensure they provided the speeds they advertised to consumers.
It’s rare to say this about a government initiative but National Broadband Initiative was one that not only worked, it worked effectively. It held all Internet providers accountable and encouraged them to improve their services. Officially, Sunil has stated that while the contracts of all consultants at the TRCSL had been terminated, there would be no moves taken to discontinue the National Broadband Initiative.
However, there are speculations that the National Broadband Initiative will actually be shut down, starting with the TRCSL’s speed testing tool from tomorrow. Furthermore, there’s also speculations that Sanath was terminated due to a personal grudge between himself and the top brass of TRCSL. There’s also questions as to whether an unknown Internet provider is involved in shutting down the NBI because, under Sanath’s leadership, it prevents this operator from stealing taxpayer money under the pretext of providing internet access to schools.
While these speculations remain unconfirmed, they paint a grim picture if they turn out to be true. Assuming that the TRCSL does indeed shut down the National Broadband Initiative, the question would be how can we hold internet providers accountable? This initiative has played a key role in keeping our internet connections cheap and fast.
Even if the TRCSL doesn’t shut down the initiative, one still has to wonder who will lead this in the future and what plans do they have? With the National Broadband Initiative playing such a key role in our internet infrastructure, it’s important that we know there is someone qualified and trustworthy our internet providers accountable.
We have reached out the TRCSL regarding this issue. We will update the article once we receive and official response.
Update 1: 30/12/2015 5:46PM
We have received an official comment from Mr.Sunil Sirisena-Director General of the TRCSL regarding this matter. He confirmed with us that contrary to Daily Mirror’s statements, the National Broadband Initiative will NOT be cancelled. The initiative will be continued under new management.