When It Rains, It Pours – Dialog Axiata Provides 4G Mobile Coverage to Mahawilachchiya

Dialog Axiata technicians checking Dialog 4G signals inside the Horizon Academy - Mahawilachchiya

Dialog Axiata technicians checking Dialog 4G signals inside the Horizon Academy - Mahawilachchiya

When it rains, they say, it pours. That is what happened to Mahawilachchiya because of Horizon Lanka Foundation. Mahawilachchiya is (was) a backward village situated bordering the sprawling Wilpattu National Park. If the name of the village was mentioned anywhere else other than in Mahawilachchiya, it was because of it being constantly targeted by the Tamil Tigers terrorists from 1985 to 2009 till the permanent peace was achieved by defeating the entire terrorist outfit thanks to the political leadership of the former president Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa. During the wartime, a numerous terrorist attacks were inflicted and the police, army and the civil security guards were injured, maimed or paid the ultimate price for the nation as a reason. A number of terrorists also were killed by the security forces. A considerable number of villagers also were either killed in cold blood and some were kidnapped and only a few could return by deceiving the terrorists. A several parents of our students also were either killed or kidnapped.

People of Mahawilachchiya was not connected to the outside world through a communication network and only the Police Station and the Post Office had limited telephone access using radio link technology. One had to wait a several hours to talk to someone at a very high price from the village post office.

When I started Horizon Lanka under a huge mango tree in my ancestral garden in 1998, there was no telephone coverage. I had to go to Colombo by spending almost a whole day to Colombo to just check emails and update our website. The distance from Mahawilachchiya to Colombo is 240 km but the bus ride on dilapidated road network in the country those days wore me out wasting the whole day on the road.

I had the luck of meeting Mr. Supun Weerasinghe from Dialog Axiata in 2002. He was then a young executive and now the CEO of Dialog Axiata, Sri Lanka’s leading telecommunication provider.  Dialog sent a team of engineers and fixed a special unit to provide mobile coverage within a 50-meter radius around Horizon Lanka’s small computer lab. That was the only place people could use their Dialog mobile phones. Then Dialog provided 2G mobile coverage to Mahawilachchiya in November, 2006. Then came the 3G. The latest addition to the line up was comprehensive 4G coverage to Mahawilachchiya from Dialog Axiata. The specialty of this is that Mahawilachchiya hamlet got all these technologies long before even bigger towns in Sri Lanka got them. The main reason to get all these new technologies to Mahawilachchiya is the existence of the Horizon Lanka Foundation and my strong links with Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya – the regional CEO for the South Asian Region of the Axiata Group Bhd., Asia’s second largest telecommunications company and Mr. Supun Weerasinghe, the young CEO of Dialog Axiata. Dialog has been a very big pillar of our success since 2002 and I hope the relationship would be even stronger in time to come as we are an organization which depends on new technology since the inception of the small English class under a tree in 1998. Dialog Axiata PLC has assisted Horizon Lanka Foundation over the years whenever we requested their assistance. Read more about it at http://www.horizonlanka.org/en/?s=Dialog+telekom&submit=Search

I thank Mr. Nuwan Samaranayake, a Sri Lankan American living in Houston, Texas, the United States for assisting me in this quest of wider mobile coverage and stronger data speed with Dialog. I also thank the whole Dialog Axiata team for being such a friendly and effective company. Extending 4G coverage to Mahawilachchiya was not in the immediate pipelines of the company priority list but the need to livestream Horizon Lanka’s annual concert, “A Rainbow of Cultures – Horizon Lanka Mega Concert – 2017” on December 31, 2017 and the planned launch of Horizon Academy website on January 01, 2018 and most importantly, the scheduled launch of Horizon Virtual Academy project that would allow anyone from anywhere in the world access both the recorded and the live ICT and language lessons from its website free of charge (only for the year 2018 – the users will have to pay an affordable subscription fee from January 2019.)

What will be in store for Mahawilachchiya next from Dialog? Maybe 5G … … … ?

Nanda Wanninayaka – Chairman & the CEO of Horizon Lanka Foundation

Dialog Axiata technicians checking Dialog 4G signals inside the Horizon Academy - Mahawilachchiya
Dialog Axiata technicians checking Dialog 4G signals inside the Horizon Academy – Mahawilachchiya

Improving 3G Mobile Coverage in Mahawilachchiya by Dialog Axiata – Update 3

Dialog technical team at Prabodha Sandeepani's house in Mahawilachchiya

Dialog technical team at Prabodha Sandeepani's house in MahawilachchiyaDialog Axiata PLC provided 3G coverage to the whole Mahawilachchiya village in 2009 on the request of Mr. Nanda Wanninayaka, the Founder of Horizon Lanka Foundation long before some bigger towns in Anuradhapura were provided the facility. Of late, some of the other mobile operators like Hutch and Mobitel also extended their 2G coverages into 3G but only small pockets of the village are covered with 3G access by them while Dialog Axiata uses two communication towers in Mahawilachchiya to provide a wider 3G coverage.

With the number of Dialog customers being increased for both voice and data, the Dialog 3G connectivity has become slow of late and it is difficult to enjoy an uninterrupted 3G coverage as the 3G facility keeps switching between 3G (HSPA) and 2G (EDGE) coverage quite often and the communication is affected. It even deteriorated with the arrival of the monsoon rains.

So, Mr. Nuwan Samaranayake, a Sri Lankan born software engineer who works in Houston, Texas, USA was keen to have a stronger 3G coverage in Mahawilachchiya as he is using internet to teach a student named Aruni Apsara of Grade 9. He uses both Skype and Facebook facetime to teach her and the results are amazing. The lucky girl has bettered her marks at each term tests in English, science and mathematics due to untiring efforts of Mr. Samaranayake. He was worried when the communication started being affected due to low signals. He asked Mr. Wanninayaka as how to solve this problem because he is planning to encourage Houston-based Sri Lankan American community to teach more students in Mahawilachchiya village using Internet. Mr. Wanninayaka told him the best thing would be to raise the issue with Dialog Axiata’s young CEO Mr. Supun Weerasinghe himself. The former did so and the latter immediately sent a technical team on October 26, 2017 to go to a few affected students’ houses and check the internet signals. The team headed by Mr. Kasun Aththanayaka of Dialog Axiata PLC went to affected students’ houses and reported the problem to the Dialog Head Office. Now they are working on readjusting the communication devices at Dialog Axiata’s tower at Kiralpetiyawa, Mahawilachchiya to improve the quality of the coverage.

We at Horizon Lanka Foundation thank Mr. Nuwan Samaranayake for raising the issue with Dialog Axiata and Mr. Supun Weerasinghe for the prompt action. Let us hope that the 3G coverage in Mahawilachchiya be improved significantly and the students and the community of Mahawilachchiya would be benefitted as a result.

Dialog Axiata PLC has assisted Horizon Lanka Foundation over the years whenever we requested their assistance. Read more at http://www.horizonlanka.org/en/?s=Dialog+telekom&submit=Search

Dialog technical team at Aruni Apsara's house in Mahawilachchiya

Dialog technical team at Pramodhya Umayangani's house in Mahawilachchiya

A Dedicated Internet Connection to Horizon Lanka Foundation from Dialog Axiata – Update 1

Diaog Axiatta PLC team at Horizon Lanka

Diaog Axiata PLC team at Horizon LankaSince July, 2014, with the resumption of our academic activities after a lapse of 3 and half years, the Horizon Lanka Foundation is using Dialog 3G broadband internet facilities using an internet dongle to connect to the Internet. Only Dialog Axiata PLC provides decent 3G coverage to the whole Mahawilachchiya village while the other operators are covering only small pockets of the village with 3G access.

With the number of Dialog customers being increased for both voice and data, the connectivity became slow of late and it was difficult to enjoy an uninterrupted 3G coverage as the 3G facility started to switch between 3G (HSPA) and 2G (EDGE) coverage quite often and the communication was affected. It even deteriorated with the arrival of the monsoon rainy season.

So, Mr. Nuwan Samaranayake, a gentleman who works in Houston, Texas, USA was keen to have a stronger 3G coverage in Mahawilachchiya as he is using internet to teach a student called Aruni Apsara of Grade 9. He uses both Skype and Facebook facetime to teach her and the results are amazing. The lucky girl has bettered her marks at each term tests in English, science and mathematics due to untiring efforts of Mr. Samaranayake. He was worried when the communication started affecting due to low signals. He asked me how to solve this problem because he is planning to encourage Houston-based Sri Lankan American community to teach more students in the village using Internet. I told him the best thing would be to raise the issue with Dialog Axiata’s young CEO Mr. Supun Weerasinghe. The former did so and Mr. Weerasinghe immediately sent a technical team to see what technology can be used to provide an uninterrupted data line to Horizon Lanka and the rest of the village.

A team of technicians from Dialog Axiata visited Mahawilachchiya on October 13, 2017 and they decided to erect an additional tower at the Horizon Lanka Foundation premises as a solution. Since they did not have the equipment in their stores at that time, they left the village with the promise of returning with the equipment as soon as they were available.

We at Horizon Lanka Foundation thank Mr. Nuwan Samaranayake for raising the issue with Dialog Axiata and Mr. Supun Weerasinghe for the prompt action. Let us hope that a dedicated and faster internet connection would be made available for both Horizon Lanka Foundation and the rest of the village soon.

Dialog Axiata PLC has assisted Horizon Lanka Foundation over the years whenever we requested their assistance. Read more at http://www.horizonlanka.org/en/?s=Dialog+telekom&submit=Search

Diaog Axiatta PLC team at Horizon Lanka
Diaog Axiata PLC team at Horizon Lanka
Diaog Axiatta PLC team at Horizon Lanka
Diaog Axiata PLC team at Horizon Lanka
Diaog Axiatta PLC team at Horizon Lanka
Diaog Axiata PLC team at Horizon Lanka
Diaog Axiatta PLC team at Horizon Lanka
Diaog Axiata PLC team at Horizon Lanka
Diaog Axiatta PLC team at Horizon Lanka
Diaog Axiata PLC team at Horizon Lanka
Diaog Axiata PLC team at Aruni Apsara's house
Diaog Axiata PLC team at Aruni Apsara’s house
Diaog Axiata PLC team at Aruni Apsara's house
Diaog Axiata PLC team at Aruni Apsara’s house
Diaog Axiata PLC team at Aruni Apsara's house
Diaog Axiata PLC team at Aruni Apsara’s house
Diaog Axiata PLC team at Aruni Apsara's house
Diaog Axiata PLC team at Aruni Apsara’s house

A Microbit unit for Horizon Lanka

Micr:bit at Horizon Lanka

Micr:bit at Horizon Lanka

We received a Microbit  unit for coding and programming from two university students from University of Rajarta on March 07, 2017. Milinda Arambawela and Prageeth Rukmal De Silva bought it to us and did a very good lesson about it to us. The unit was donated to us from Microbit Sri Lanka User Group http://www.microbitslug.org

Prabhath Mannapperuma, Milinda and Prageeth are volunteers of MicrobitSLUG. They work hard to spread knowledge about Microbit and Donate Microbit Devices.

Earlier Tjerand Silde from Norway gave an introduction to us about micro:bit teacher introduce Micro Bits to us Then it was quite easy for us to catch the subject.

We want Milinda and Prageeth to come again and do another workshop on micro:bit as it will help us further. I love to learn about this type of gadgets. I already have an electronic kit sent by Mr. Nuwan Samaranayake from Houston, the USA. Below is an introduction about micro:bit from www.microbit.org website.

“This will be your hub for all things micro:bit, from writing code to sharing your creations. We’re working hard to make your experience as smooth and fun as possible, so if you have any feedback for us it’d be brilliant to hear it. You can contact us at help@microbit.org

You can use your BBC micro:bit for all sorts of cool creations, from robots to musical instruments – the possibilities are endless. This little device has an awful lot of features, like 25 red LED lights that can flash messages. There are two programmable buttons that can be used to control games or pause and skip songs on a playlist. Your BBC micro:bit can detect motion and tell you which direction you’re heading in, and it can use a low energy Bluetooth connection to interact with other devices and the Internet – clever!

Have a look at our hardware page the micro:bit is an open development board that allows you to run code on it and have access to all of the hardware. We have enabled debugging so that you can really interrogate the system – the more you know about all the bits and pieces that your BBC micro:bit is made of, the more you can hack it and create with it.

Now onto the website, where you will write the scripts that can make all your BBC micro:bit dreams come true. Anyone can have a go, write code, and see how it would play back on the BBC micro:bit online simulator. You can get to the editors on a PC, tablet or mobile, at school or on the go.

Do you use a mobile phone or tablet? There is a micro:bit mobile app that lets you send your code to your micro:bit over Bluetooth (without using a USB cable) and more. The mobile page will tell you all about it.

So what are you waiting for? Watch some short videos to get started with your BBC micro:bit, find out about the different code editors and explore our tutorials and projects.

Be a tech pro of the future with the BBC micro:bit. The digital world is your oyster.”

Ashen Chandoopa Wijewickrama – ashen@horizonlanka.org Grade 8, Horizon Lanka Academy

Milinda Arambawela teaching the children
Milinda Arambawela teaching the children
Prageeth Rukmal De Silva teaching the children at Horizon Lanka
Prageeth Rukmal De Silva teaching the children at Horizon Lanka
Children practicing with mirobit unit
Children practicing with mirobit unit
Children practicing with mirobit unit
Children practicing with mirobit unit
Children practicing with mirobit unit
Children practicing with mirobit unit
Children practicing with mirobit unit
Children practicing with mirobit unit
Children practicing with mirobit unit
Children practicing with mirobit unit
A microbit lesson
A microbit lesson on the screen
A microbit lesson on the scren
A microbit lesson on the scren
Milinda Arambawela donating the microbit unit to Horizon Lanka students
Milinda Arambawela donating the microbit unit to Horizon Lanka students
Milinda Arambawela donating the microbit unit to Horizon Lanka students
Milinda Arambawela donating the microbit unit to Horizon Lanka students

Nuwan Samaranayake from the United States Sends Educational Equipment to Horizon Lanka

An American volunteer teaches chess to Horizon Academy students

An American volunteer teaches chess to Horizon Academy students

Mr. Nuwan Samaranayake is a Sri Lankan American living in Houston, Texas, the United States of America. He has been helping Horizon Lanka Foundation since 2002 after our website became famous in 2002 with a series of stories published about us in LankaPage, a Sri Lankan news website.

Mr. Samaranayake has helped financially, with scholarships to our students and with computer related equipment in the past. He visited us in June, 2016 with his family.

After his return to the USA, he sent a several boxes of equipment to us in October, 2016.  This is the list of items in the boxes shipped to Horizon Lanka.

  1. Box
    1. Four 500 GB hard drives
    2. Two DVD writers
    3. RAM (2x4GB and 2x1GB)
    4. Five Wi-Fi adapters and some Bluetooth adapters (all USB)
  2. Box
    1. Two DVD writers
    2. Asus Wi-Fi router, power supply and manual
    3. Network switch
    4. Microphone
    5. XLR microphone wire
  3. Box
    1. USB microphone adapter (Blue brand) for audio recording
    2. RAM
    3. Laptop hard drives
    4. Osmo playset for iPad
    5. Mobile solar power pack
    6. Headset for skype
  4. Box
    1. Robot (Dash) and manual
    2. A laptop power chord
    3. A USB Power pack
  5. One magnetic chessboard
  6. One electronic kit
  7. Black laptop bag
  8. Two backpacks
  9. Accessory pack for Robot (Dash)
  10. Benro brand tripod
  11. Laptop (HP) for winner of next evaluation at Horizon Academy.
  12. A used iPad
  13. AA batteries. 48 battery pack.
  14. AKG headphones for Horizon Academy audio work
  15. 2 used Dell laptops for Horizon Academy

We thank the Samaranayake family for this generous donation. The equipment will be used for the educational purposes of the children.

Children are excited to see the iPad
Children are excited to see the iPad
Equipment in the boxes
Equipment in the boxes
An American volunteer teaches chess to Horizon Academy students
An American volunteer teaches chess to Horizon Academy students
An American volunteer teaches chess to Horizon Academy students
An American volunteer teaches chess to Horizon Academy students

A Bicycle for My 13th Birthday – Thank You Dinidu

Aruni Apsara Wewalage

Aruni Apsara Wewalage

I got a great present for my birthday from Dinidu Samaranayake, the only son of Mr. Nuwan and Mrs. Kumari Samaranayake. I received a new bicycle as the birthday gift from them. The bicycle is black and it is very beautiful. I can ride it very fast. I like it. My old bicycle is broken and I couldn’t go to school by bicycle. I had to walk to school every day. My family can’t afford a new one so I am very glad that Mr. Samaranayake gave me the bike.

I thank the Samaranayake family for helping me. Not only this, they are sponsoring me with a MicroScholarship and also paid for the expenses of the Czech volunteer who we are hosting at our home. I can learn English very fast with her.

I would like to go by bike to school with my friends – Sachini, Nimanthitha, Prabodha and Tharani. But they don’t have bikes because their parents need bikes at work. So, it would be great if those who read this page can help those girls to buy bicycles.

Aruni Apsara Wewalage – Grade 8 – Horizon Lanka Academy

Aruni on her new bicycle on her birthday
Aruni on her new bicycle on her birthday
Aruni and her mother
Aruni and her mother

Dinidu, Nuwan and Kumari Samaranayake from the United States Visit Horizon Lanka

Dinidu Samaranayake

Dinidu Samaranayake

We are very happy today because Mr. Nuwan Samaranayake, Mrs. Kumari Samaranayake and their only son Dinidu Samaranayake from the United States of America visited us in the evening. We had already heard from Mr. Nanda Wanninayaka that the Samaranayakes had helped Horizon Lanka earlier too when the former students studied here. But this is the first time we saw them. They are a nice family. They spent their whole afternoon time with us. We learnt a lot from Dinidu. He taught us how to do basic programming with “Scratch” programming and the Minecraft game.  We also learnt how to work with his iPad and robot. He also sang the song “Nothing is impossible.”

Mr. Nuwan Samaranayake is a software engineer in the USA. He is also a good photographer. Mrs. Samaranayake also is a software engineer at IBM, USA. Dinidu is a student in Grade 6. He is full of fun. We like him a lot. They also did a financial donation and also gifted us a robot unit and some other equipment for us to learn. Hope they will visit us again.

Tharani Madhara Rathnayaka – Grade 6 – tharani@horizonlanka.org

 

Dinidu Samaranayake teaching Scratch programming to Horizon Lanka students
Dinidu Samaranayake teaching Scratch programming to Horizon Lanka students
Dinidu Samaranayake singing Nothing is Impossible
Dinidu Samaranayake singing Nothing is Impossible
Dinidu Samaranayake operating the robot
Dinidu Samaranayake operating the robot
Dinidu Samaranayake teaching us with his iPad
Dinidu Samaranayake teaching us with his iPad
Dinidu Samaranayake teaching us with his iPad
Dinidu Samaranayake teaching us with his iPad
Nuwan Samaranayake teaching us computers
Nuwan Samaranayake teaching us computers
Nuwan Samaranayake chatting with the Vietnamese volunteers.
Nuwan Samaranayake chatting with the Vietnamese volunteers.
Dinidu Samaranayake with Horizon Lanka girls
Dinidu Samaranayake with Horizon Lanka girls
Saying goodbye to the Samaranayake family
Saying goodbye to the Samaranayake family

A Pi-Bot robot kit from Mr. Nuwan Samaranayake from the USA

Dhananjaya Wijewickrama setting up the Pi-Bot robot unit
Dhananjaya Wijewickrama setting up the Pi-Bot robot unit

Mr. Nuwan Samaranayake, a Sri Lankan born software engineer from Houston, Texas, USA has helped Horizon Lanka from the very inception. Recently he sent a Pi-Bot robot kit for us to learn the hardware and software of robotics. Our senior student Dhananjaya Wijewickrama was able to learn how to use it by reading online tutorials about it. Now other senior students also learn how to use and program it. We thank Mr. Samaranayake for opening a new avenue for us.

Pi-Bot robot unit
Pi-Bot robot unit
Pi-Bot robot unit
Pi-Bot robot unit
Pi-Bot robot unit
Pi-Bot robot unit
Pi-Bot robot unit
Pi-Bot robot unit