Lotus Tower to house Japan-funded broadcasting project

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The China-funded Lotus Tower will house the 17 billion Japanese Yen soft loan Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting (DTTB) Transmission project, funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), as they had completed the feasibility study in 2013. However, it is one of the 12 projects by JICA that had been suspended due to the financial crisis in Sri Lanka and calling for the IMF push, Ceylon Today reliably learns.

Sri Lanka hopes to use the tallest tower in South Asia as the hub of digital transmission network. 

The first and second floor of the top part of the Lotus Tower (Right below the lotus flower) that is designated for digital transmission has been allocated by the Telecom Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL).

Japan currently does not want to engage in any projects or funding until Sri Lanka’s financial situation is revived, possibly after taking the IMF bailout of some USD 3.2 billion.

Top officials attached to the TRCSL said that in the hope of obtaining the JICA fund, some of the areas of work had already commenced, but at a slow pace.

Japan has been sceptical about Sri Lanka over projects being dished out to other countries while sidelining them on two mega projects such as the East Container Terminal, for which they had completed feasibility studies. Similarly, the light rail transport (LRT) project that was marked for Japan was pulled out citing it was an expensive project with overrated interest rates.

Sri Lanka currently in on an analogue transmission system and the lotus tower will completely transfer to a digitized network once the operation starts, hopefully in 2023, noted an engineer attached to the TRCSL.

According to TRCSL, the Tower will also house 20 telecommunication service providers, relay defence signals and indirectly contribute to the riddance and removal of high-power TV and FM antennas innumerably positioned at various structures in Colombo City.

When the transmission is digitized, on one frequency nearly six transmissions can be in operation.

Sri Lanka approved adoption of the European standard for DTTB in 2010 with the aim of switching off analogue broadcasting by 2017. It was the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa, on his visit to Japan in April 2013, that announced the acceptance of the Study Team and the implementation of a test ISDB-T broadcast in Colombo on the initiative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in Japan.

JICA which conducted the feasibility study thereafter said through discussions between the study team and concerned parties, that it seems likely that it will be possible for the Lotus Tower to be used as the Colombo transmitting station that will be the prominent transmitting station of the DTTB Platform, and as the DTTB Platform network operations centre.

The Lotus Tower was handed over to the Telecom Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) by the Finance Ministry in February 2022. Today, the TRCSL has leased the Tower to Lotus Tower Management Company (Pvt) Ltd. But the TRCSL will run the telecommunication on the first and second floor as a high security area with no access for the public.

The telecommunication transmission using the Lotus Tower is still untouched and the Government is gearing for a mega soft loan from Japan’s JICA to handle the digital transmission and digitize all TV and Radio Channels including national security transmission.

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan