Sri Lanka leads region in 4G

Sri Lanka: Dialog Axiata Group  expressed confidence that Sri Lanka would lead the South Asian region in 4G technology within the next two years. “All telecommunication providers would agree that the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka has been proactive in introducing new technologies. As a result, Sri Lankan mobile operators were the first to introduce 3G Network in South Asia taking the move forward, Sri Lanka would pioneer in the region in 4G technology within the next two years,” Dr Wijayasuriya told Daily News Business.

The Dialog Group CEO made these comments after launching the 4th Generation Long-Term Evolution (LTE) pilot network at its Darley Road office on Saturday, which also made Colombo the first LTE enabled city in South Asia.

Dr Wijayasuriya said the development of the ICT sector was not laid only by the operator. “The Government policy and the progressive attitude of the TRCSL also play a vital role in ensuring that Sri Lanka is well ahead in the region,” he said.

LTE technology would be the next generation of mobile broadband technology and what we have seen over the last few years is that successive generations of technology have come in quite fast. The lifetime of each technology being introduced is shrinking and is being replaced by newer versions. Although it took ten years for the 2G to be surpassed by the 3G, it will be only three to four years between 3G and 4G, he said.

4G brings higher speed than 3G, however, the 4G technology is still at an early stage worldwide. The terminals, be it dongles, laptops or inbuilt devices such as tablets, laptops or computers, these are inbuilt components and are still expensive. I would say that the availability, compatibility and affordability of the device would determine how fast LTE would become mainstream, he said.

Dialog has commenced it as a pilot project within five zones within the city of Colombo- Fort, Slave Island, Colpetty, Bambalapitiya and Narahenpita. “We have deployed over ten base stations as we have coverage in the Colombo city, but though it is not continuous, but outdoor coverage gives a speed of between 30 and 50 megabytes and we have tested it in the streets of these zones,” he said.

Responding to a question as to how Dialog Axiata would aim to strategize its 4G network expansion, he said that the company would move into commercial operation gradually when the devices are available. There is no point in proceeding with the 4G expansion roll out plan until the devices are ready and affordable. But Dialog would also proceed with the expansion of the 3G coverage simultaneously. The 3G network is expanding and has over 1,000 base stations and the total number of base stations round the country is over 2,200 across the country.

However, there are the special environments such as the indoor environments which demonstrate that the capacity could rise to even 100-120 megabytes. The 4G coverage could be developed in the same manner as the 3G coverage which tested in 2004 with the late Sir Arthur C. Clarke which was launched in 2006, it also became the first 3G coverage in South Asia and is delivering 42 Megabytes per second.

Asked whether he sees the demand for mobile phone games increasing, he said that it would take time. “Some of the applications that we showed was to demonstrate the options of the network, but it would take some time to make it affordable,” he said.

Network expansion for the mobile phones is almost complete with 93 percent of the landmass of the country covered. “Almost the entire population of Sri Lanka is covered but there are a few remote areas accounting for 7 percent and that too would be covered by mid 2012,” he said.

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