If the promise of broadband (wired and wireless) access is that higher-speeds facilitate greater knowledge sharing and content development, Sri Lanka is committed to severely throttling this potential. As a post in Lirneasia highlights, the unhealthy primacy given to the numbers of users in a given network as opposed to the development of the Quality of Service (QoS) enjoyed by subscribers – in this case, getting the broadband speeds one pays for, which is never the case at the moment with a 2Mbps ADSL connection from SLT delivering 1’s and 0’s slower than a snail in heat – is bound to stifle the growth of ICT in Sri Lanka.
If, as some of the commentors suggest, SLT is also contemplating an upward revision of ADSL access tariffs, this would put Sri Lanka further in the dark ages of telecoms and ICT development, where the norm is to provide the best possible access at the least possible cost, in order to create profits through the large scale adoption of large footprint wireless broadband access and / or high volume usage of wired / wireless broadband access. Surely, if the e-society vision of ICTA is to hold materialise, users need the bandwidth promised by ADSL and related wired / wireless technologies to create the content that will underpin knowledge sharing frameworks in the future – from citizens journalism which includes video and audio, civil society driven initiatives that encourage sharing of knowledge resources within and between grassroots networks, government driven initiatives to promote greater citizen interaction in governance frameworks and for-profit business driven ICT initiatives that seek to establish, through the promotion of products and interactive services on the web and through mobiles, a greater market share.
This intricate concert of content production, dissemination and consumption, is founded upon the sustained availability of broadband bandwidth and not a seething mass of users who are discontent with a deplorable level of service and high costs of access. If, as this blog promotes, peacebuilding is an important use of ICT in the future and is already on the roadmap of ICTA, SLT would do well to heed the the existing and future needs of users and provide them with the access speeds Sri Lanka requires to transform the rhetoric of ICT and the promise of ICT4D into reality.