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.