By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
Sri Lankan citizens are now able to enjoy the free Wi-Fi service at key public locations, which was one of the election promises of President Maithripala Sirisena.
“This was one of our promises in the 100 days programme, and we have achieved it, like we have achieved everything else,” Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera, under whom the Information Communications Technology portfolio falls, said.
He said that people from Point Pedro down to Dondra Head would be able to make use of the new service.
Users could set up an account linked to their National Identification number on their mobile device when connecting, or by visiting an outlet of a telecommunications service provider. Each account has a monthly allocation of 100MB.
The services are now available at 26 well-frequented locations such as railway stations, public libraries, universities, hospitals and parks.
Information Communication Technology Agency Managing Director Muhunthan Canagey said that the service would be expanded to 300 locations before the end of the 100 days programme and a further 1,000 in the next three months.
Chief guest Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe launched the facility during a momentous event held at the Fort railway station yesterday.
“We want to create an economy based on knowledge and technology for our future generations and this government will always put our future generations first,” the Premier said.
He alleged that the previous regime had not cared about the future, or they would have brought forth such initiatives in the past without building palaces across the country.
“They spent Rs.1 billion on the royal palace in Jaffna. They could have used this money to help the youth,” Wickremasinghe said.
He further added that the Treasury had spent Rs.1 billion to complete the free Wi-Fi project.
“So we want our youth to bring their devices and mobile phones and use this to its maximum potential,” he said.
However, Canagey recently said that no public funds would be utilized in the project, as telecommunication service providers had set up the facility and undertaken the cost as a national service.
He further added that 100MB is just the beginning and the setup of infrastructure under the free Wi-Fi project would bring down the cost of 1GB of Wi-Fi data down to around Rs.100 for a commercial user as well.