Extra Time

May 18, 2007 (LBO) — Sri Lanka’s telecom watchdog has given the island’s first Internet service provider, Lanka Internet Services Ltd., extra time to restore services to thousands of customers currently stranded offline, after the company halted services, a top official said.

Lanka Internet hit financial difficulty in March with the senior management disappearing without paying staff or creditors.

The company’s owners have since appealed to the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), which has threatened to cancel their operating license.

“We have given them (Lanka Internet) 15 days starting from May 17, to restore services to all their customers. Otherwise they risk loosing their license,” TRC Director General, Kanchana Ratwatte said.

An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 Lanka Internet clients were affected when the company abruptly closed business.

“Customers were caught off guard by the loss of their Internet and email services,” Ratwatte said.

Established in 1994 by a group of Sri Lankans living in the US and Colombo-based investors, Lanka Internet was the first to connect the South Asian island of 19.5 million people to the information super highway. Since 1994, over 25 Internet service providers have started operations in Sri