Minimum broadband speeds are expected to be imposed and strictly monitored for both fixed and wireless operators from next January, Sri Lanka’s telecom regulator said.
The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), the regulator for the telecommunications in Sri Lanka, informed that starting from January 2013, the mandatory minimum broadband speeds maintained by fixed operators and 3G operators should not be below 70% and 30%, respectively of the bandwidth advertised.
“The objective is to establish a standard in the industry, which every player has to comply with in order to ensure the maintenance of the quality of the broadband service in the country, according to our broadband roadmap,” a consultant on broadband at the TRCSL, Sanath Siriwardena told Mirror Business.
“On the other hand, as the regulator, we have to protect the user (subscriber) and ensure they receive the speed advertised by the operators (which sometimes they fail to deliver), while promoting the subscriber interest. Therefore, the whole idea behind this move is to narrow the gap between the bandwidth advertised and delivered,” he remarked.
For instance, with this standard comes into effect, an operator who promises 2Mbps will have to maintain a minimum of 1.6Mbps and 1.080Mbps for fixed and 3G (3.6Mbps), respectively. Asked why a much lower standard was imposed on 3G, he said that unlike fixed operators, a static service speed was hardly possible due to various practical reasons, such as location and less predictability.
“However, that does not mean you will receive only 30% of the speed. I am sure you will get a much higher speed. But this is the minimum. Speeds vary widely in 3G and depend on many factors which are beyond the control of operators. So, we have to do monitoring carefully. We impose these interim standards with the intention of encouraging operators to maintain a value for money service in broadband,” he emphasized.
According to Siriwardena, the standard was established after two years of discussions and consultations with operators, industry findings and surveys. Further to the above initiative, the TRCSL is also expecting to carry out speed tests to measure the performance of mobile broadband operators in the outskirts of Colombo and the very first such broadband speed test results will be published in February 2013.
Since December 2010, broadband speed measurements have been carried out in locations confined to the Colombo area and were published in the TRCSL’s official website. It is learnt that Sri Lanka is the only country to have increased transparency in terms of operator speeds.
Reaching further heights, he said, “Now we have enabled each broadband customer to measure his own speed from the PC. To facilitate this, we have hosted ‘an icon’ on the TRCSL website as well as on the homepage of all the operators,” he emphasized. Commenting on this, the Director General of the TRCSL, Anusha Palpita said, “One of our major obligations is to protect the rights of broadband users to ensure that subscribers are receiving a reliable and speedy broadband service at an affordable price. I believe that this speed measuring facility would help the role of regulator in the process of realizing these obligations. I’m very pleased to notice this voluntary action of service providers which reflects their genuine efforts and their readiness to accept the input of broadband subscribers in a transparent manner.” For this purpose, the TRCSL has established international servers in both the United States and Germany with a monthly maintenance cost of Rs.100,000 to provide highly accurate and reliable ‘end to end’ broadband speed measurements to both service providers and the customers.