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SLT Celebrates World Telecommunication Day on 17th May, 2014

  • Accelerating its “Broadband for Sustainable Development” initiatives.

  • The only ICT company, with over 150 years of service to the nation.

  • Towards achieving SMART Sri Lanka and Digital Economy.

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), the flagship national ICT solutions and premier broadband services provider and the national backbone network operator is proud to celebrate “World Telecommunication and Information Society Day” (WTISD) by highlighting its commitment of using “Broadband for Sustainable Development”. The purpose of WTISD is to help raise awareness of the possibilities of the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as bridge the digital divide. May 17th marks the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Theme of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day-2014

The theme for WTISD-14, "Broadband for Sustainable Development", will focus on multi-stakeholder commitments to achieve universal access to broadband connectivity and content, and foster political will to achieve this objective; identify key gaps in broadband research and development, infrastructure, and packaged development of applications and services; define policy priorities for action in the areas of allocating a radio frequency spectrum for broadband, universal access obligations and innovative financing mechanisms; and lead technological solutions, particularly in the extension of broadband access to rural areas, least developed countries and small island developing states.

ICT for sustainable SMART Sri Lanka and Digital Economy

The dynamism of the global telecommunications industry in the recent past has completely revolutionized conventional practices. Consequently, the advent of mobile and data substitutions have lessened the demand for traditional voice services where industry growth is now predominantly driven by data mediums with the internet being largely responsible for creating a “SMART World”.

Sri Lanka’s telecommunications industry too has mirrored many of these global trends, with rapid growth observed in both fixed and mobile broadband penetration levels leading to considerable growth in the volume of internet subscriptions across the country. World class ICT infrastructure and solutions would undoubtedly have a positive impact on expanding the productive capacity of the economy, while facilitating sustainable economic growth in Sri Lanka. Moreover all the giant ICT projects with heavy investments carried out in the country will have a positive impact in transforming this country to a “SMART Sri Lanka” whilst expanding the broadband footprint to promote a “digital economy”.

Issuing a message to express his views, Mr. Lalith De Silva, the Group CEO of SLT said, “As a nation we all must be proud of the economic benefits we are enjoying through the robust Broadband services in the country. On the economic front, a high speed broadband environment will encourage higher GDP, enhanced exports, increased productivity, inward migration and modernizing of other sectors. It will reduce transaction costs, increase market coverage and competitiveness and create significant opportunities for job creation and income generation at all micro and macroeconomic levels. In addition, it will foster economic growth and development through affordable, reliable and seamless global communication paving the way towards a SMART Sri Lanka. Digital development is a transformative tool for fast-track sustainable development. In order to realize its full potential it is essential for SLT to roll-out a fibre-optic high-speed broadband network and National Backbone Network making broadband affordable and accessible around the country.”

Sri Lanka’s Broadband Readiness and Growth

With the business and consumer confidence index showing signs of definite improvement, Sri Lanka’s position in the “Doing Business Index” moved up to 81st place in 2013, which is up 8 places from the ranking achieved in the preceding year.

Meanwhile, on par with developed economies, Sri Lanka’s overall youth literacy rate has also reached an all-time high. While being a key driver of ICT growth in the country, the YoY growth in the IT literacy rate is indicative of the country’s potential to transform into a regional ICT hub in the years ahead. The growing appetite for broadband services has also resulted in the demand for wider coverage, together with greater economy and affordability of broadband services. The only way to achieve this is through robust infrastructure capabilities vis-à-vis superior fibre optic networks that would drive the broadband revolution across Sri Lanka in line with the GoSL’s long term ICTA objectives.

Sri Lanka’s Global Network Readiness Index ranking was 72 in 2012 and went up to 69th place in 2013. Also Sri Lanka is the country with the lowest price for entry level Broadband in the entire world. In a recent announcement (Q4-2013) made by the international Broadband-Forum, Sri Lanka was included within the top 10 Broadband countries considering quarterly percentage growth above 4%. The figures show that copper-based technologies (DSL, ADSL and ADSL2+) continue to be dominant, although fibre-based technologies (which include VDSL and VDSL2) are taking a firmer grip with an overall growth rate of 17.6%.”

Adding further Mr. De Silva, said “being the No. 1 ICT solutions provider, SLT has placed top emphasis on ICT infrastructure to ensure economic empowerment through the connected Government programme ‘Lanka Government Network’ and all other main economic powerhouses. Also having a country-wide network, we are providing ICT solutions to public institutions, private sector businesses that include large enterprises, SMEs & micro businesses around the country to strengthen the economy through state-of-the-art broadband technologies. We strongly believe the country's national broadband plans as key policy instrument to leverage and realize the full potential of broadband as an enabling infrastructure to accelerate sustainable development”.

National Fibre-optic Network - National Backbone Network

National Backbone Network (NBN) supports sustainable national progress connecting all 329 Divisional Secretariats to strengthen connected government activities. NBN facilitates with high-speed and uninterrupted backbone connectivity with highest redundancy across the country for all operators. According to ITU estimation, mobile broadband subscription may achieve 10 billion globally by the end of this decade and over 90 per cent of international data traffic runs over fibre-optic cables. ITU's thrust to push the broadband agenda for sustainable development focuses on the dual goals of supporting the deployment of mobile broadband based on ITU's International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) and the continued rollout of fixed-line technologies. International consensus achieved on ITU standards and radio spectrum related activities for mobile telephony, fibre optics and access standards such as DSL, is the key for achieving the goals of universal access.

Global Connectivity

SLT has already taken proactive steps to invest in a futuristic global connectivity option exceeding 24 Tera bits per second (24Tbps) bandwidth capability via the new cable system SEA-ME-WE 5, upgrading of the existing SEA-ME-WE 4 cable system and expanding the network to bring gigantic capacity to Sri Lanka for future focussed data demands. SLT has partnered the SEA-ME-WE consortiums right from the inception and currently SLT connects globally via SEA-ME-WE 3, SEA-ME-WE 4 and two other private cables to India and Maldives. With SLT’s investment in the new SEA-ME-WE 5 cable, the country’s global connectivity capacity will move to the next level - with terabits of capacity; making Sri Lanka and SLT “future ready” to take on the challenges of the envisaged data explosion.

Broadband Technologies

One of the key strategic objectives of the SLT Group is to drive broadband-based consumer and enterprise services by expanding the broadband footprint via Next Generation Network and National Backbone Network and Next Generation Access of ADSL2+, VDSL2, Optical Fibre, Carrier-grade Wi-Fi and both fixed and mobile 4G LTE technologies. SLT continues to roll out VDSL2, ADSL2+, fixed 4G/LTE and FTTH services to enhance customers' experience while ensuring that investments are future focussed.

Uplifting Society for Sustainable Development

Transforming Lifestyles - the complexities of modern lifestyles have led to the increased dependency on broadband services for daily business, educational and social lives. Internet users are now generating content and uploading them onto the web to be shared within their circles of friends. This can only be done with the wide deployment of the broadband network. Obviously, broadband has become the most critical infrastructure in modern society. Not content with the current broadband services on offer, consumers continue to demand greater digital economy. Sophisticated ICT infrastructure and services remains the only way to fulfil the insatiable demand for connectivity, while supporting parallel platforms for interactive television, distance learning, online education, e-health, and opportunities for Cloud Computing, private business networking and much more at superior speed with reliability and high quality. .

Developing broadband is important to build digital & social inclusion and is also important in helping the government reach its economic objective as well as to reduce the country’s road congestion and fuel consumption levels. Greater broadband connectivity and capability will lead to a bigger reduction in work-related miles driven in the country. Similarly, by supporting a better online shopping experience, broadband could produce a considerable fall in shopping miles, leading to reduced carbon dioxide emissions and road congestion in Sri Lanka.