ICTA plans ambitious digital infrastructure, Google Loon by March


Nov 06, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has ambitious plans for digital infrastructure to connect all people on the island, ICTA, the apex ICT institution of the government, said at the LBR LBO Infrastructure Summit in Colombo.

“In all the years of the ICTA, we are going to do five times more (next year),” Arunesh Peter, chief of projects, ICTA said.

“Essentially Google Loon has already been signed, the first balloons are on the way for testing. Our target is by March we will reach every single citizen with Wi-Fi.”

Project Loon from Google[x] will provide balloon-powered internet access in Sri Lanka with a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space. It is designed to connect people in rural and remote areas to help fill in coverage gaps.

With 13 balloons above Sri Lanka — one balloon is expected to last over 100 days — internet service providers can connect their networks through these ‘floating towers.’ This will reduce transmission costs.

Peter was speaking at the LBR LBO Infrastructure Summit on how to make Colombo a Globally Competitive City.

Since there are limitations to Google Loon, ICTA has other initiatives planned. A second initiative is the “free Wi-Fi” initiative, a public- private partnership, where about 2,000 sites will be deployed by end of next year.

A third initiative is to connect all government departments through one platform where people will be able to access government  services.

“Every single government building within the next two years will connect with 100 mbps fibre or 100 mbps link with Wi-Fi transmitters around every single building,” said Peter.

Anyone in proximity of 200 metres could access government services and access education, which includes schools and post offices.

He added that plans are underway to educate public on how to benefit from these initiatives.

“We have to educate the public. There’s no point of just building infrastructure if people do not use it. So we are planning various programmes to address that as well.”

“What is dear to the heart is education. So we are going to drive education via internet. That is a programme that we have already started with Ministry of Education and Google Loon.”

Grade 1-10 educational content will be delivered in both Sinhalese and Tamil via Google Loon by  March.

“And it will go beyond that for all facets of primary and secondary education by next June and these initiatives have already been started,” he said.