Sri Lanka Table of Contents
In 1988 Sri Lanka's domestic and international telecommunications services were operated by the Posts and Telecommunications Department, of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. Communications with most countries were available through telephone and telex services; an international direct dialing service was introduced in 1980 and by 1987 was in operation in most parts of the country. Advances in the telecommunications field, however, had not kept pace with the growth in the economic sector occurring since the 1970s. In the 1980s, the quality and availability of telecommunications services in Sri Lanka was average compared to other Asian countries, but poor compared to other parts of the world. With approximately 106,500 telephones in use in 1986, the telephone network was extremely overloaded, the exchanges nearing or exceeding capacity levels. Line congestion and long waiting lists for telephone connections were common. Telephone lines were concentrated in urban areas, with over 60 percent located in the Colombo area, which houses only 5 percent of Sri Lanka's population. Direct dialing was available within Colombo and to some major towns, but operator assistance was necessary for other connections, which often led to long delays.
The Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation operated radio services, and the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation and the Independent Television Network operated television services in the 1980s. In 1987 almost 700 hours of weekly radio programming were broadcast domestically in Sinhala, Tamil, and English. Programs were transmitted internationally via a shortwave station at Ekala, and domestically through twenty-four medium-wave stations and FM stations located in five cities throughout Sri Lanka (see table 9, Appendix A). Over 2 million radio sets were in use in the mid-1980s. Foreign service broadcasts to Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East were transmitted from Ekala in eight languages (English, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Nepali, Sinhala, Tamil, and Telugu). Independent foreign broadcasts transmitting programs from Sri Lanka included the Deutsche Welle station at Trincomalee, and Voice of America radio station at Colombo, and the religious stations of Trans-World Radio and Adventist Radio.
Television transmissions began in 1979 and by 1986 there were some 350,000 receivers in place. Programs were broadcast over three channels in Sinhala, English, and Tamil for four hours daily via the main transmitter at Pidurutalagala, Nuwara Eliya District, and two relay stations at Kokkaville in northern Batticaloa District and Kandy. The Independent Television Network broadcast over one channel from the station at Wickramasinghapura.
International telecommunication services were provided mainly by the Padukka satellite station and the South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe submarine cable system. The earth station, commissioned in 1975, continued to provide international telephone and television services via the Indian Ocean Region INTELSAT satellite. The submarine cable station located at Colombo was commissioned in 1984. It extended from Singapore to France via six countries (Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Italy) and provided Sri Lanka with international telephone communications.
Sri Lanka was planning to invest Rs2.5 billion in telecommunications in the late 1980s. The advances were slated in the telephone network and other telecommunications services.
Data as of October 1988