Although the Internet’s history goes back to the early 1960‘s it was relatively new to Sri Lanka until the initiation of the Project called LEARN (Lanka Experimental Academic & Research Network) in 1990 by the University of Moratuwa. It is the first step that launched towards the connectivity of academic and research communities in Sri Lanka to the Internet. Also, LEARN interconnects most of the academic and other research Institutions across the country. It has provided the Sri Lanka’s first e-mail service, which was operated by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering of the University of Moratuwa.
Since 1993, academics in the country started to access the Internet by means of techniques such as international direct dialling – IDD on a fairly regular basis. However, in 1995 LEARN was connected to the real global Internet giving unrestricted access to its users.
In addition to the academics there are many other private computer users and business organisations who want to have access to the internet and the WWW. Therefore the need of such services emerged in order to provide the Internet access to anybody. An institution that provides access to the Internet in some form is called an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Lanka Internet is the Sri Lanka’s first such ISP established in 1995. Now they provide necessary services such as Electronic Mail World Wide Web Access, FTP, Telnet and Gopher. Before Lanka Internet launch these operations Sri Lanka’s communications capabilities were very difficult and the technology was expensive. Only a limited number of large multinationals and shipping companies was able to access the new technology
In addition to the Internet facilities Lanka Internet also specialises by providing services such as Local Area (LAN) and Wide Area (WAN) Network solutions, Radio modem connections, and project management.
Country’s second ISP was Sri Lanka Telecom which also hopes to improve the nation’s telecom infrastructure which will be of benefit to the Internet users around the country. They provide both dialup and dedicated line access to the Internet for reasonable fees.
Later a number of ISP’s joined the Internet offering full Internet connectivity to the people. However, in most cases access was restricted to users in the capital, Colombo and the suburbs.
Sri Lankan media joined the Internet with the support of Lanka Internet services by publishing the Internet editions of Sri Lanka’s most famous newspapers, The Daily News and The Sunday Observer. This achieved global recognition not only among the Sri Lankans around the world but also among other people interested in tourism, politics, religion and sports such as cricket. In 1996, Lanka Internet has introduced a new and significantly lower tariff structure giving access to small business users and others. In the same year Sri Lanka National Web Site was inaugurated which provides a central point of entry for information on the country.