The first Sri Lanka National Broadband Forum, themed ‘A Better Connected Sri Lanka’ co-hosted by the Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Ministry and Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, co-organised by Huawei, was held in Colombo on Monday.
The forum served as an industry dialogue platform, bringing together the senior policymakers of the government, local operators, service operators and industry stakeholders to shape a shared agenda of facilitating the widespread of broadband rollout as the key component to digital economy in Sri Lanka.
The half-day event featured a top line-up of speakers from the Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Ministry, Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka, Huawei, a global leading ICT solution provider, Ovum, iFlix, as well as major local telecom operators.
Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Minister Harin Fernando welcomed the participation of heads of ministries and leaders of the industry who convened for this landmark forum to chart the road ahead towards a digitally connected Sri Lanka.
“The telecommunication industry of the country has showcased tremendous improvement over the recent years. As a new era of rapid worldwide development dawns for the global broadband industry, we strongly believe that this is indeed the ripe time to accelerate broadband development in Sri Lanka,” Fernando said.
Huawei Sri Lanka CEO Wang Shunli explained his company’s support to the country’s telecommunication sector having 10 years of operation in Sri Lanka.
“Huawei began its operations in Sri Lanka in 2005. We cooperated with the local operators to achieve one of the fast growing markets in Southern Asia, with a 10-year CAGR of 17.3 percent and 44.4 percent in mobile and fixed broadband sectors and today serving 15 million Sri Lanka’s citizens,” Shunli said.
“We are delighted to have been part of this grand platform and were encouraged by the success of the forum in facilitating meaningful dialogue within the broadband space. The vision of building a digital connected nation is a formidable undertaking and we appreciate the government’s efforts to spearhead initiatives that inspire constructive participation from industry leaders. I hope this is just the first of many broadband forums to hold in Sri Lanka. Huawei, as the global leading ICT solution provider, is very glad to share our knowledge, solutions and experience and to face the construction challenge together. We are committed to long time contribution in Sri Lanka such as cultivating local talents,” he said. With Sri Lanka currently embarking on a journey of transformation to become a digitally enabled and empowered society, the importance of having a robust fixed-broadband base to build upon is critical. According to Ovum’s research, Sri Lanka’s fixed-broadband penetration compared to a broad basket of South and Southeast Asian countries is relatively high, ranking five out of 10 countries surveyed by Ovum.
However, Sri Lanka trails leading markets such as Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, where both DSL and FTTH penetration rates are far higher. Fixed broadband household penetration remains low, with DSL penetration of 10.3 percent at the end of 2015. Low household penetration and the lack of a strong FTTH market correlate closely to the country’s lower ranking in terms of average download speeds.
At the event, insightful presentations covered efforts to digitally connect the people of Sri Lanka and the development of fixed broadband and content services. The inaugural Sri Lanka broadband forum concluded with calls from industry players, experts and government agencies for the implementation of efforts toward the rapid delivery of broadband development strategies, encouraging conductive regulatory policies and significantly increased inter-ministerial and industry collaboration within the country’s broadband sector – all of which were discussed at the event.