The Information and Communications Technology Agency (ICTA), which implements the government’s ICT policies, will be launching the ‘Free Wi-Fi’ project in partnership with all telecommunication operators, in the coming months, to let citizens have further accessibility to information and participate in e-governance.
“Thousand public locations will get Wi-Fi free of charge. This has been finalized. It is not a plan or a promise, because some said it is not economically possible or it was a ploy to get young votes,” Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Ajith Perera, under whom the ICT sector falls, said.
He noted that access to information is no longer a luxury but a critical need, similar to access to water, electricity and telephones used by youngsters in rural villages up to top corporates.
“This will open up new employment opportunities and new markets may appear,” Perera said.
ICTA CEO Muhunthan Canagey said that the citizens would be able to vote on the e-government and ICT initiatives being developed by the ICTA and allow them to engage with the government on policy planning.
“This is the first time the public has been going to be able to engage in policymaking with the government and be closer to the government.”
The access points would be fixed at locations of importance, such as universities, public parks, libraries and highly frequented railway stations and bus stops.
“We are going to implement at 250 locations within the 100-day programme and the rest to follow within two to three months. But our dreams go beyond these 1,000. We want free Wi-Fi to be available everywhere in the country,” Perera said.
Recently, Sri Lankan-born Silicon Valley technologist Chamath Palihapitiya called on President Maithripala Sirisena pitching a concept of low orbiting geo synchronized satellites to provide free islandwide Internet access, capitalizing on Sri Lanka’s location close to the equator. The president had given his blessing to explore the opportunities. (Chandeepa Wettasinghe)