The inaugural Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Sri Lanka was successfully held recently with the participation of industry professionals from all around the country. Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), the national ICT solutions provider and the leading broadband and backbone infrastructure services provider in the country was the Principal Sponsor of the event which was held at the BMICH.
The IGF Sri Lanka 2016 is an initiative developed by the Internet Society Sri Lanka Chapter (ISoC Sri Lanka, www.isoc.lk), with the UN Internet Governance Forum Support Association (UN IGFSA), with the Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure, ICTA, LEARN as well as many other stakeholders. This is a part of the global IGF initiative which will be held for the 11th consecutive year this year. IGF Sri Lanka 2016 was ceremonially inaugurated by Hon. Harin Fernando, Minister of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure who was also the Chief Guest at the event.
The main purpose of the IGF is to gather people from various stakeholder groups as equals, to discuss public policy issues relating to the Internet. The IGF informs and inspires those with policy-making power in both the public and private sectors via discussions, which facilitate the exchange of information and the sharing of good practices with each other. Moreover, it provides the ideal platform for developed countries also to engage and participate in internet governance debates on an equal footing with developed countries. Thus, Sri Lanka stands to gain a great deal by this forum, which will provide the country with opportunities for the development of all communities and sectors through the enhancement of the internet.
As the national telecommunications provider, SLT is committed to driving broadband-based consumer and enterprise services by expanding the broadband footprint via ‘Next Generation Network’ and ‘National Backbone Network’ and next generation access via multiple technologies. Especially through the company’s i-Sri Lanka project, SLT has ensured that broadband connectivity is now available in all corners of the country. The company has been committed to increasing broadband penetration in Sri Lanka by expanding and upgrading its network to provide consistent, high speed, uninterrupted internet that is on par with international standards through this project. Further, the introduction of fibre connectivity during the year 2015 has ensured that users are able to obtain access to multiple-services such as faster file and data transfers, high definition channels on PeoTV, high speed internet access, Wi-Fi, and various other online applications with immense freedom and without any bandwidth limitations. Further, the launch of SLT’s public Wi-Fi hotspot service last year, powered by “carrier-grade” Wi-Fi technology, which is the Next Generation Wireless Broadband Access technology, also supported towards the company’s vision to expand the country’s broadband footprint to empower more citizens in the country with access to a superior broadband experience. By increasing affordability and accessibility, the company has contributed to Sri Lanka being ranked as the world’s number one for the lowest entry level broadband charges by the International Telecommunication Union.
Thus, having been at the forefront of ICT transformations in the country, and aligning with the vision of the government in driving developments in the country through ICT, the company is in a unique position to understand the key role played by forums such as the IGF. This was an influencing factor in the company’s decision to come forward as the Principal Sponsor of the first ever IGF held in Sri Lanka.
The key topics that were discussed during the forum were: “Sri Lankan contribution to next billionth users”, “Safer internet” and “Freedom of expression”.
“Sri Lankan contribution to next billionth users” will focus on policies that ensure that all communities have sufficient access to the internet, increasing e-literacy of the country and making sure the required infrastructure is in place for all citizens of the country to have internet access. The discussions on “Safer internet” will revolve around ensuring a safer internet experience for children while at the same time ensuring that they are provided adequate exposure to the benefits of the internet such as access information and learning. “Freedom of expression” refers to the freedom of expression with regards to the digital environment. Two officers of SLT, Prabath Dahanayake, GM / Product Development & Management of SLT and Asela Galappattige, GM / Project Evaluation of SLT, who was also an Executive Committee Member in the ISoC and a Member of the IGF 2016 organizing committee represented the company and made a key contribution towards the IGF as panellists in the panel discussions that were held on the day.