Sri Lanka will witness a major digital transformation next year as the government sets sights on digitalising the economy by migrating government infrastructure to a more electronically developed government or a Smart eGovernment. Addressing a press conference held on the sidelines of the Sri Lanka Broadband Forum last week, Minister of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure, Harin Fernando said 2017 would be an interesting year as the island would complete the implementation of the LGN 2.0 facilities while projects such as the laying out the Fibre Network, public Wifi Facilities and other projects would also be expedited and complete.

“Japan has also agreed to help us in digitalising the government’s TV stations and if this works, hopefully in the next one to two years, it would free the current spectrum conundrum and enable telecom operators to provide better quality of broadband and internet services,” the Minister asserted.

When asked about the envisaged Google Loon project, Fernando acknowledged it was behind schedule but that was only because of the impasse in finding a ‘spectrum’. Since that has been sorted out recently, this project would also soon get off the ground, he asserted.

1.Broadband Forum

“The team from Google was in Sri Lanka about a week ago to educate and assure the defence establishment on the security concerns that prevailed in the project. Soon they will be bringing the balloon from Brazil and if the deployment is successful Sri Lanka would leapfrog in technology delivering 4G LTE speeds,” the Minister noted adding that it will then transform citizens to be digitally enabled and empowered society.

According to Ovum’s research, fixed-broadband household penetration remains low, with DSL penetration of 10.3% at the end of 2015. This low household penetration and the lack of a strong FTTH market correlates closely to the country’s lower ranking in terms of average download speeds when compared to regional countries.