There is a post making rounds on social media about internet charges of Sri Lanka. I don’t know how accurate the post really is, but Sri Lankan telco companies and their ISPs run one of the most shadiest businesses in the country, and it’s doing more harm than good.
We don’t have unlimited internet
Yes, I guess Sri Lanka is one of those countries that does not provide unlimited home broadband internet. We are charged according to the amount of data we end up downloading for a given month, and ISPs provide different packages with different quotas.
Sadly these data quotas are peanuts when we compare them with the rest of the world. We get 50GB of data for about RS1450 ($8), but they also have some, restrictions when it comes to the usage.
Even if we buy some data from an ISPs we are. Or able to use 100% of the data that we buy, because the ISPs put different restrictions to the data quota.
Foe example, they put peak and off peak data caps. Usually this is 60% off peak (12 mid night to 9AM) and 40% peak (9AM to 12 mid night), that means we are only using 40% of the data that we actually paid for, or else we will have to wait pass 12 mid night to use the 60% of our data.
When it comes to mobile broadband this is even worse, they also put a cap on 4G data, that means we will be roughly getting 45% of peak time and 45% of off peak data, and roughly 10% of 4G data. This means we can’t browse using 4G speeds 90% of the time.
The wold has moved to 5G and we are still getting 10% of data to browse on 4G is a joke.
And once you ran out of the data quota, you have to pay an insanely high price to purchase data add-ons to continue browsing.
The main argument that ISPs provide is the fact that if they provide unlimited data, many users will end up downloading large amounts of data (movies, games, streaming etc) and the whole system will run out of bandwidth.
However, they have been putting up this argument close to a decade, and since we are now in 2021, surely the should have developed their infrastructure to handle this much bandwidth.
Also almost all of the ISPs have some shady practices of putting hidden fees, or vanishing data etc. Every month you are going to see some users complaining that their data has vanished, even without using.
Some users even track their data usage and found discrepancies between their actual usage and usage provided by the ISPs.
Since the ISPs provide the data and the data usage, only they know what they are actually charging for data that was never used, or whether the user have unknowingly used some data.
Whatever the truth, many users believe that ISPs are doing some shady practices with their users’ data.
It’s doing more harm than good
All these practices, high data charges, lack of unlimited data is doing more harm than good.
Startups, businesses and entrepreneurs require uninterrupted internet, and may require unlimited data to continue their businesses.
And these limitations are hindering their growth, and economy in return, and at the same time, foreigners maybe reluctant to come and work in a country like Sri Lanka, where there are no proper internet facilities.
Also pandemic had caused many people to work from home, and this means people will be spending data which they pay off their own pockets to do work for their companies.
Yes, the ISPs have provided some special packages for Zoom and Microsoft Teams, but still the users have to buy these packages. And if we have unlimited internet connections then there is no such need for special packages.
Is there a solution?
Well, for a start we can have the existing horrible packages for mobile broadband (for mobile devices) or mobile devices have to pay be the data amount they consume.
And for home and fixed broadband connections, ISPs can offer unlimited internet connections.
If that is not possible they can provide unlimited internet connections to startups and registered businesses.
I’m sure there is a suitable solution for this, and maybe it’s the telecommunication regulator’s fault, because they will be losing millions of tax money gathered by users paying for these metered internet connect.
Either way, if we are to move forward as a country with good IT infrastructure, good ISPs and good internet facilities are a must.