Connecting rural communities through Innovative Mobile Broadband Network Services | Asian Business Review
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Connecting rural communities through Innovative Mobile Broadband Network Services

SLT-Mobitel’s cost-effective broadband services have tremendously uplifted rural communities and helped bridge the Digital Divide, especially during the onset of the pandemic.

Rural communities are usually challenged when it comes to having access to Broadband. This is typically due to low population density and affordability, which in turn creates less incentive for network infrastructure investment and thus poor ROI. To address these rural customers' needs and to involve them in the National Digital Transformation, SLT-Mobitel established an innovative use of its 850MHz spectrum for broadband to connect and empower these rural communities.

SLT-Mobitel is the National Mobile Service provider in Sri Lanka, which currently serves over 8 million subscribers and operates on a quad-band, multi-technology and multi-vendor network.

SLT-Mobitel has long inculcated a culture of innovation across the company, and as a result, SLT-Mobitel has been able to compete against its strong competitors effectively and efficiently. It has competed on Service Excellence in line with its National Service Obligations.

As a result of SLT-Mobitel being a late entrant to GSM, the primary and most valuable mobile coverage deciding spectrum in the 900MHz band was not available, and instead, SLT-MOBITEL was awarded a spectrum in the E-GSM spectrum band. This spectrum, unfortunately, suffered from severe interference from an Indian Code-Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operator. Further, other available sub1GHz spectra were occupied by the CDMA operators in Sri Lanka, which eventually became obsolete.

With the motivation to avoid the sub1GHz band interference from India and to extend the island-wide broadband coverage, SLT-Mobitel took a bold and innovative approach by creating a new LTE 850MHz spectrum band in Sri Lanka with the support of the TRCSL. The newly formed 850MHz band was then utilized for LTE, which would give nearly three times the coverage of that of the spectrum used for LTE at 1800MHz.

This innovative solution allowed SLT-Mobitel to increase its LTE population coverage from 76% to 95% almost overnight. Moreover, it has to be noted that the solution was rolled out just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, thus SLT-Mobitel was perfectly placed to support work-from-home, online education, telemedicine, online business and other activities that heavily relied on reliable broadband availability, especially for rural communities.

SLT-Mobitel’s innovative exercise of developing a new cost-effective, rural broadband LTE network improved the utilization of the scarce national spectrum resource, which guided Sri Lanka to become a digitally inclusive and digitally transformed country.

SLT-Mobitel’s work towards building a Digitally Inclusive Sri Lanka is remarkable and has been recognized by the Asian Technology Excellence Awards 2022 when SLT-Mobitel was awarded the Sri Lanka Technology Excellence Award for Network and Broadband – Telecommunications.

The prestigious awards program aims to recognize exceptional companies that are riding the digital disruption wave and leading the technological revolution and digital transformation journeys in their respective industries.

Further, SLT-MOBITEL’s untiring commitment to providing superior connectivity and an unmatched user experience has earned the organization the prestigious accolade as the ‘Fastest Mobile Network in Sri Lanka’ by Ookla® for three consecutive years since 2019. As the National Mobile Service Provider, SLT-Mobitel continues to expand its network infrastructure to drive digital inclusivity and boost rural connectivity by collaborating with the TRCSL to provide 100% 4G LTE connectivity to the nation.  

The Asian Technology Excellence Awards is presented by Asian Business Review. To view the full list of winners, click here. If you want to join the 2023 awards programme and be acclaimed for your company's outstanding retail initiatives, please contact Jane Patiag at [email protected].

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