Fast Downlink

August 30, 2007 (LBO) — The US Agency for International Development has teamed up with local and international partners to launch over a dozen of high speed Internet kiosks in far-flung towns outside the city of Colombo, officials said Thursday. The 700,000 dollar project is targeting 15 budding entrepreneurs who are willing to take the risk, with the first of such kiosks opening in Wennappuwa in the west coast of Sri Lanka Wednesday.

“By this initiative, we hope to give last mile access to people living in remote parts of the island,” USAID Acting Mission Director for Sri Lanka, Richard Edwards told reporters.

“The kiosk will be powered through broadband technology, giving people high speed internet access to expand their knowledge, their education, or to look up new markets or technologies to produce goods and services.”

The project brings together Sri Lanka’s biggest mobile phone operator Dialog Telekom, equipment vendor Qualcomm, software giant Microsoft, the National Development Bank and Lanka Orix Leasing Company, who have each chipped in by way of cash or kind.

Within the next two months, the project hopes to open Easy Seva centres in Anuradhapura, Dambulla, Habarana, Rikillagaskoda, Weeraketiya, Nuwara Eliya, Tissa