Sri Lanka’s fixed broadband speeds are some of the lowest in South Asia.
Sri Lanka’s Internet is quite slow by regional standards. We do, however, have wide coverage and it feels cheap. That is, I have a lot of friends online, but they all complain about how slow it is. That’s better than not being online at all, but it still sucks.
Let’s start with fixed broadband, which would be basically Sri Lanka Telecom ADSL. This is a government company and they suck to work with (takes days for a connection, offices are sparse and sparsely open) but they do provide ADSL. Helani’s report cites SLT to say that they have about 213,816 ADSL subscribers. I went in for a connection last week so make that 213,817. It still doesn’t work and I’m pissed so that number might fluctuate.
How do the speeds measure up? Well, bad, as you can see from the graph above, Sri Lankans are getting about 400 Kbps on a 2 Mbps line.
Actual speeds compared to what’s advertised
As you can see, we’re getting significantly less than what’s advertised. If you look through the full report, you’ll also see that we’re paying more for less (download speeds per dollar).
Mobile Broadband is wonderful, it’s cheap (about Rs. 5000 for a modem and then Rs. 3,000 a month for limited use) and widespread (I have rarely been unable to connect, islandwide). Helani’s report cites about 294,000 subscribers, according to the TRC. MoBro is, however, slow and gets expensive if you want to download movies or use the Internet with gleeful abandon. When I went to India a year ago they didn’t even have 3G, which Sri Lanka has had for years. It’s not like Sri Lankan companies don’t innovate, I think they just get choked up in terms of international bandwidth.
Mobile broadband speeds also at the bottom
As you can see, speeds are slow,
Mobile broadband Internet advertising is completely fanciful
and less than advertised.
These are only a few graphs and download speeds are only one measure. What’s nice is that we can now quite confidently say Sri Lanka’s Internet and not be talking about a niche product. There are at least 280,000 fixed subscribers (including dial-up, ADSL and WiMax) and around 300,000 mobile broadband subscribers. There are also over 1 million HSPA/3G mobile users with active data use. This is all via Helani’s report btw.
The rub is that while more Sri Lankans are on the Internet, we are all wasting a bunch of time and getting frustrated at how slow it is. And while, to a degree, that may be out of any one company’s control (except perhaps the state controlled SLT), their advertising certainly is in their control, and the advertised speeds are offensively wrong.