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Sri Lanka telcos to offer new data plans to study, work from home in Coronavirus

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s telecom firms will provide expanded data plans to help customers work and study from home to promote social distancing during Coronavirus, and talks are also underway to design unlimited data packages, a regulatory official said.

The packages are to be announced on Telecom Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka website shortly.

“A couple of providers agreed to give some favourable packages to the customers,” Deputy Director (Tariffs), at the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka Nishantha Palihawadana said.

“We have asked them to publish these packages on their websites as well and they are working on it at the moment”.

The regulator has also asked network operators to come up with unlimited data plans, he said.

“From all the networks we asked to provide the packages, but they are the ones who have to come up with the proportions” Palihawadana said.

“We are having discussions on this matter and still haven’t come to a decision.”

The industry has so far been reluctant to provide unlimited data packages as it could overload networks during the evening peak, and reduce quality for all users.

Industry officials have said that networks saw high data loads when Coronavirus curfews started making it difficult to maintain quality at times.

Traffic surged around 30 to 40 percent as curfews started in March sending the group scrambling to maintain quality and keep the network running, Group Chief Executive Supun Weerasinghe said.

“This created a massive challenge… to keep everyone connected and maintain service,” Weerasinghe told an online forum by Echelon Magazine, a sister publication of EconomyNext.

“But fortunately this traffic change happened during daytime. Our network is designed for a night peak. It helped smoothen the load.”

Data use in Sri Lanka has been growing sharply as due to rising domestic YouTube content, online meetings, social media as well as shifting voice traffic to over-the-top services.

Sri Lanka has been progressively relaxing Coronavirus controls and also been relaxing limits placed on the number of workers that can report to office with no new cases reported from the community for more than three weeks.

However controls on public transport are still in place. Schools are also not yet open. Many schools are using Zoom.com, Skype and whatsapp to teach students.

Whatsapp is useful for students who do not have computers.

Sri Lanka has confirmed 21 new Coronavirus cases on May 07, taking the total up to 1,835, but all were from foreign returnees in quarantine. Of the total 892 were from the Navy and close contacts. So far 990 have recovered and 11 have died. (Colombo/June08/2020)