Feasibility Study to Provide an Internet Connection to Horizon Lanka from LankaCom Services

Asanka Gtamanna, A telecommunication engineer from LankaCom.
Asanka Gtamanna, A telecommunication engineer from LankaCom.

An engineer from LankaCom, led by Mr. Asanka Gatamanna​ and some technicians from their subcontractor, Sanit Technologies in Anuradhapura visited Horizon Lanka computer lab and the Dialog Axiata communication tower on October 17, 2015. They wanted to see if LankaCom can provide a leased internet line using the Dialog tower to provide unlimited access to the internet for Horizon Lanka. Dialog has been very helpful to us in the past. And these are the facilities they offered us so far.

(1)  First, the Dialog provided Horizon Lanka Foundation a low cost phone packages for 5 staff members and 10 parents.

(2)  Then Dialog provided mobile phone access to Horizon Lanka around a 50 meter radius of Horizon Lanka building at a time none of the other places in Mahawilachchiya had mobile phone coverage. So, not only we, mobile users from the whole village came to make calls using the coverage at Horizon Lanka.

(3)  Dialog donated 6 brand new PCs and 6 computer tables for the students to use in December, 2006. The company also donated 120,000 LKR as the allowance for one of our instructors for the year 2007. The cost of the total donation was 500,000 LKR (4637.35 USD during that time.)

(4)  Dialog provided first mobile coverage to Mahawilachchiya using the Lanka Bell communication tower, on Horizon Lanka Founder, Mr. Nanda Wanninayaka’s request to Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, the CEO of Dialog Axiata.

(5)  Dialog expanded the coverage to the Left Bank of Mahawilachchiya on February 27, 2009 using Dialog’s own high tension tower in Kiralpetiyawa, Mahawilachchiya on Horizon Lanka Founder, Mr. Nanda Wanninayaka’s request to Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, the CEO of Dialog Axiata.

(6)  Dialog Axiata permitted to use its Kiralpetiyawa, Mahawilachchiya base tower for LankaCom to install Horizon Lanka’s mesh internet equipment in the Dialog tower without charging a penny. It helped us expand our mesh internet network to Kiralpetiyawa, a forgotten and backward area of Mahawilachchiya when it comes to infrastructure facilities.

(7)  Dialog Axiata provided first and only 3G coverage by using the Lanka Bell tower in Pemaduwa, Mahawilachchiya in June, 2011 on Horizon Lanka’s Founder, Mr. Nanda Wanninayaka’s request to Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, the CEO of Dialog Axiata. But this was not sufficient as Horizon Lanka Foundation is situated in the Left Bank of the village.

(8)  Dialog Axiata expanded its 3G coverage to the Left Bank of Mahawilachchiya in September 2011 on Horizon Lanka Founder, Mr. Nanda Wanninayaka’s request to Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, the CEO of Dialog Axiata.

(9)  Dialog permitted LankaCom, one of the rival companies of Dialog when it comes to Internet facilities to use its Kiralpetiyawa tower without charging a penny for Horizon Lanka to get internet access through LankaCom. Unfortunately the signal strength to the computer lab was too weak as the heavily grown tree canopy blocked signals. But still there is hope that if install a 120 feet tower at Horizon Lanka, LanCom will be able to direct the antenna to Dialog tower and get the signals.  Anyway Thank you Dialog for all what you did over the years for us and we will do the maximum justice to your helping hand by producing more English and ICT savvy youth from Horizon Lanka Foundation as we did in the past.

It was LankaCom that provided internet to Horizon Lanka from April, 2004 till February, 2011 (almost 7 years) with maximum breakdowns less than of 10 times during the whole period. They charged us a nominal fee for the internet connection till Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) sponsored our monthly internet bill from 2005 onward. We are incompletely satisfied with LankaCom’s Internet connection and its maintenance services. So, thought of getting their services again.

After hours of checking signals to the computer lab from the Dialog base tower in Kiralpetiyawa we did not get a positive result from Asanka Gatamanna, the engineer from LankaCom. According to him, we cannot directly get internet signals from the Dialog tower in Kiralpetiyawa, Mahawilachchiya due to heavily grown tree canopy around Horizon Lanka computer lab. So, we need to install our own tower at Horizon Lanka (like in 2004) and aim it to either Dialog tower in Kiralpetiyawa or to LankaCom’s base station tower in Anuradhapura. We will have to install a 120-feet tower and it will cost us in the range of 600,000 LKR to 700,000 LKR (4270.00 USD to 4981.67 USD.) We will publish another article once we get the full budget from them.

Setting up the disc antenna.
Setting up the disc antenna.
Erecting a temporary tower at Horizon Lanka to test the signal reception.
Erecting a temporary tower at Horizon Lanka to test the signal reception.
Asanka checking signals
Asanka checking signals
Checking signals inside the lab.
Checking signals inside the lab.
Not good, not good.
Not good, not good.
Finally, some refreshment from Jeewani to already tired team
Finally, some refreshment from Jeewani to already tired team

Networking and Getting Internet to the Horizon Lanka Computer Lab

LankCom staff with Mr. Wanni at LankaCom's meeting room.
LankCom staff with Mr. Wanni at LankaCom’s meeting room.

Mr. Nanda Wanninayaka, the Founder of Horizon Lanka Foundation met LankaCom staff on September 25, 2015 at LankaCom Head Quarters in Colombo to discuss about networking the computers at Horizon Lanka computer lab and getting a leased internet line with unlimited access to the Internet. It was LankaCom that provided internet to us from April, 2004 till February, 2011 with the maximum number of breakdowns being less than 10 times during the whole period. They charged us a nominal fee for the connection till the ICTA (Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka) sponsored our monthly internet bill from 2005 onwards. We are completely satisfied with LankaCom’s Internet connection and its maintenance services. So, we decided to stick to their services again. LankaCom is the best Internet Service Provider (ISP) especially in rural areas like our village, Mahawilachchiya which is 40 km away from the nearest city, Anuradhapura. When they provided us internet there wasn’t a single landline or mobile operator that covered Mahawilachchiya till LankaBell (CDMA based telephone coverage) and Dialog Axiata (mobile coverage with 2G technology) covered the village in 2006. So, we had to erect a 120 feet tower in Horizon Lanka compound to get internet signals from LankaCom’s base internet tower from Anuradhapura which cost us around 500,000 LKR (5124 USD) in 2004. That was the biggest fundraising we did for Horizon Lanka. Mr. Wanni took us to a cybercafé in Anuradhapura and let us use Internet there. We were excited a lot and wanted to get internet to Horizon Lanka. So we decided to collect some money ourselves before asking others to contribute. So, we organized a fair at Horizon Lanka and we brought vegetables and fruits from our homes and sold them at the fair. We collected a small amount of money and deposited that money in the institute’s bank account and put up a website about that fundraising and requested Horizon Lanka donors and well-wishers to contribute to that fund. Mr. Kumara Badhuge from Qatar, Mr. Mark Frazier (Openworld) from the USA, Mr. Leif Smith (Explorer’s Foundation) from the USA and late Dr. Gamini Premadasa (through LearnAid, Kuwait) donated necessary money to erect the tower and install the other equipment needed to get internet. So, by April, 2004 we were able to get 24X7 internet to Horizon Lanka. We had to abandon the tower we built in 2011 as we had to close down the project for 3 ½ years due to various challenges we faced with Mr. Wanni’s departure from the village in January, 2006. We hope you will contribute for us to get internet again. Now that he is back in he village for good, we are confidant that we can prosper again.

LankCom staff with Mr. Wanni at LankaCom's meeting room.
LankCom staff with Mr. Wanni at LankaCom’s meeting room.
LankCom staff with Mr. Wanni at LankaCom's meeting room.
LankCom staff with Mr. Wanni at LankaCom’s meeting room.