Public Wi-Fi

Community access to computer and Internet technology is an essential resource, connecting people to the information and skills required in the modern digital world. By increasing the availability of affordable high-speed Internet access throughout the country, it has the competency to promote economic development and social inclusion. This project aims to accelerate the government’s efforts in enhancing Internet accessibility for Sri Lankan citizens to accelerate economic, social and educational opportunities.
With this vision, the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) initiated the roll out the ‘Public Wi-Fi’ project under the 100-day program of the Government. The program is being spearheaded by the ICTA along with the support of the internet service providers in Sri Lanka including Sri Lanka Telecom, Dialog, Mobitel, Lankacom, Lanka Bell and Etisalat. The main objective of this program is to allow Sri Lankan citizens to be able to freely access to the internet for a variety of purposes. It is anticipated that access to online information will allow the citizen to pursue goals in education, employment, entrepreneurship, health, governance, etc. The main beneficiaries of this initiative are rural community including unemployed, youth, women and marginalized communities to access the Internet for their day to day information search with an affordable cost.
Public Wi-Fi services play a significant role in individual, group, or a community through access to information and other related services once used effectively and recognizing their potential. Moreover public access to internet help users to be well informed on various issues prevailing in and outside their society, through various informational services. For instance, farmers who use public Wi-Fi can obtain information on agricultural services from the web and able to increase their agricultural productivity through investing in better methods of production and fertilizers. Apart from agriculture, rural people engage in small-scale business activities can use the internet to find more market opportunities. Developing agriculture and business activities can contribute to improving the living conditions in rural areas. Easy access to information and communication services has given agriculture and businesses significantly improved access to markets for agricultural produce and other business products. The Public Wi-Fi project therefore has the potential to assists farmers and business community by providing them with modern technology, as new markets are established for internet base selling of their products and services.
Public Wi-Fi project also plays a role in relation to communication as social media networks are very popular mode of communication in todays’ world. It is evident communication enabled via social networks maintained by families, friends and also customers through the internet.

 

In Essence

Implementation of an effective promotions, education and awareness creation activities for adaption of Digital devices and technologies by the Citizens.

  • Operate in Cloud Infrastructure
  • Open Standard Architecture
  • Responsive Design
  • Secure Software Development
  • 1,176Active Locations
  • 306,000+ Registered Users
  • 6 Telecom Operators and Lanka Government Network 2.0
  • 36,500+ GB Usage
  • 100 MB per user/month

Current Status
In the first phase of this project, 1000 public locations across the country will be provided with the Wi-Fi service now operational throughout all districts. Inaugurated by the Hon. Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe on March 30, 2015 at the Colombo Fort Railway station. On this day a total of 26 free Wi-Fi zones have been established and Kandy, Polonnaruwa, Matara, Jaffna, Galle, Peradeniya, Katunayake, Ratnapura, Dehiwala, were among the first cities to get the public Wi-Fi service which was promised by the present government before the presidential election. Currently there are more than 300,000 users registered for this service. With this project, main public locations such as all state universities, railway stations, bus stands, hospitals, public parks, libraries, museums and certain government offices were upgraded with the public Wi-Fi Facility.

More frequent usage is reported from Colombo, Gampaha, Badulla, Kandy, Kurunegala, Galle and Anuradhapura districts. Following map depicts all the Wi-Fi locations implemented island wide and Further details are available at the Public Wi-Fi website.

Map of the public Wi-Fi Locations

In order to make this service a more easy to use, user –friendly experience, ICTA has engineered a common registration and authentication platform that provides a common Wi-fi User management solution. By using this common platform, regardless of the network used, a citizen can have an account registered and start using Wi-Fi service. Once logged into the portal, it requires to fill user details including the National Identity Card number (NIC). Upon confirmation of the NIC and the mobile number registrant can start using the Wi-Fi service around the country irrespective of the service provider. The advantages of this platform includes:

  1. Easy access to the Public Wi-fi service
  2. Maintain your device
  3. Synchronized social media
  4. Submit feedback, complains and issues
  5. Personal profile manager
  6. Check remaining data balance
  7. Summarize last login details

The Government Call Centre (GIC), 1919, has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the Public Wi-Fi services by general public and assist them to use the system. Further details on the project available at the web link: http://publicwifi.lk/ .

Success

 

Public Wi-Fi systems have a promising future in a country where data usage is growing rapidly. During year 2016, the internet penetration in Sri Lanka shows a remarkable growth of mobile broadband connections and an exceptional growth of fixed the internet connection demand and the country is making a digital hub with the growth of e-commerce industry in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan’s general lifestyle has changed with the internet penetration growth within last few years. The projects such as Public Wi-Fi will have significant impact on leveraging the internet usage in the country and one of the major aspects that have enriched and enhanced in Sri Lankans’ lifestyle is the easy accessibility to the internet via smartphones and other technological devices. It plays an integral part in our day to day life by facilitating us with information search and use of social media networks for communication. As the use of internet penetration continue to improve the services such as mobile banking, online utility bill payments, and online shopping.

However, it is important to note that Sri Lanka’s average internet usage is increasing gradually with regards to the previous decade. According to the recent internet usage statistics the number of active internet users in Sri Lanka is more than 5 Million. The reasons behind the growth of the internet penetration Sri Lanka are smartphone usage, the popularity of social media channels, the growth of e-commerce, the growth of academic systems, the growth of digital marketing efforts, online jobs, and the industrial and commercial factors.

Way Forward

As the project progress is ensured, ICTA is looking forward for achieving the 1000 public Wi-Fi locations by the end of year 2017. Once fully deployed, the project will serve over 10 million concurrent users in its initial 12 months and shall scale up to 15 million and more users. ICTA will further promote public Wi-fi locations countrywide offering internet services and connecting citizens seamlessly to Government online services. The concept of managed services shall be leveraged all throughout the project, not only ensure rapid rollout, a responsive service, allow economies, and other aggregation derived benefits, but also to create commercial opportunities for private sector participants that would redound to greater economic benefit through expanded services for all. For instance, ICTA will introduce additional technological services such as location based advertising campaign while improving the public Wi-fi service.

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