Sri Lanka first to be wholly covered by Wi-Fi by March 2016

Google Vice President Mike Cassidy met with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at “ Temple Trees” before he signed an agreement with Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka to cover the entire country with 3G internet under the “Google Loon Project”. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and Mike Cassidy are seen here, with Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and ICTA Chairman Muhunthan Canagey. Deputy Minister of Investment Promotion and Highways Er

Sri Lanka will become the first country which will be entirely covered by Wi-Fi service by March 2016. Sri Lanka has re-entered into the path that establishes strong and close connections among Sri Lankans and between Sri Lanka and the rest of the world, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.

Speaking at a ceremony at Temple Trees yesterday in connection with the signing of an agreement to extend the Wi-Fi facility from Point Pedro to Dondra, Minister Samaraweera said that Sri Lankans did not have adequate Wi-Fi facilities as yet.

“Over 150 Wi-Fi hot spots were established in public places during the government’s 100 day programme. But it is not adequate.

Hereafter the advertisements such as ‘we covered Matara’ and ‘we covered Jaffna’ will only be memories.

From now on, the whole of Sri Lanka will be covered with Wi-Fi and all Sri Lankans will have internet facilities no matter where they are,” he said.

Minister Samaraweera pointed out that the government will not stop by connecting Sri Lanka to the world.

“We will establish a direct connection between the state and Sri Lankan citizens through internet. Journalists will be able to translate each others’ articles and understand the contents of them through Google translator.

In the near future, smart mobile phones will enable to translate Sinhala and Tamil languages through simultaneous voice translation. Corruption and malpractices will be minimised and the government will provide facilities to the citizens to connect with state services and institutions through internet,” he said.

Minister Samaraweera stressed that Sri Lanka was connected to the entire world since the ancient past.

Sri Lanka is in a strategic location in the Indian ocean where the main trade route connecting East and West connects.

There is a long history of trade, tourism and cultural exchange through the Sri Lankan harbours. Sri Lanka was a country which exchanged people, products and ideas with the rest of the world maintaining good relationships. Our history books provide evidence of that, he said.

“But in the recent past it was not so. About two decades ago the essential requirement to get a telephone connection was patience. In 1994, I was appointed the Telecommunication Minister and I spent most of my time adding three little letters on application forms forwarded to obtain telephones. They are Approved Out of Turn (AOT).

People suffered after filling so many forms and waited for seven or eight years in the waiting list. Even after obtaining the telephone connection, the ordinary people could not afford the call charges and communication was restricted to a handful of rich and politically powerful persons,” he said.

“By privatising Sri Lanka telecom and introducing private sector companies, we were able to compete with the rest of the service providers and started a new era.

We introduced a mobile network all over the country covering villages for an affordable price. But today voice is not adequate. Today Sri Lankan students can follow an online engineering study course from the Harvard University and also obtain a rare Pali manuscript from the Internet. Studies shows that internet connected small scale business are expanding rapidly,” he added.

Highways and Investment Promotions Deputy Minister Eran Wickramaratne said that attention should be paid to bring new laws to protect people’s privacy which is important when it comes to the use of internet.

In the past people from far away villages had to travel a lot to obtain a passport but today they can obtain it within one day because of the advancement of technology.

“We have reduced the gap between the village and town using information technology. We will be able to reduce the gap between the rich and poor by using the same. People will be able to connect with politicians through internet and there will be no need for a public day.

It is important to provide that facility at an affordable price. All information connected to a person from birth to death can be digitised minimising paper work,” he added.

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