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Sri Lanka to amend TRC act to put up the Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite 

July 10, Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka is currently in the process of amending its Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Act to accommodate the Starlink satellite system, launched by Elon Musk, the billionaire behind SpaceX and Tesla. 

The island nation has preliminarily approved Starlink to offer satellite-based internet services following a formal public consultation. This decision followed a meeting between President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Musk during the 10th World Water Forum in Indonesia two months ago.

However, Sri Lanka’s current TRC law does not include provisions for granting licenses to third parties to operate telecommunications services.

 The proposed amendment, set to be presented in parliament today on Tuesday (09), will introduce new licenses: infrastructure service, telecommunications service, and cable landing station licenses, according to State Technology Minister Kanaka Herath.

“Starlink falls under the telecommunications service license,” Herath informed reporters at a media briefing in Colombo on Monday (08).

 He also addressed concerns by the Attorney General’s Department by removing certain clauses from the amendment. “There were four requests from the AG Department. We have addressed all of them, and the amendment has passed through the parliament oversight committee stage,” Herath explained, responding to national security concerns.

Last month, the State Minister announced that Sri Lanka would collaborate with Starlink to provide internet via satellite technology, marking a significant advancement in the technology sector with high-speed internet access.

Starlink, part of Elon Musk’s SpaceX group, operates a low earth orbit satellite network connecting approximately 3 million people with high-speed internet across nearly 100 countries, territories, and markets.

The new legislation will provide provisions to introduce a mechanism to provide telecommunication frequencies under a competitive system. 

Accordingly, the relevant regulations should be compiled by the Parliament and thus the opportunity to introduce the new technology to the telecommunications sector of the country as well as it will be possible to properly regulate the institutions that are involved in the business, the officials pointed out.

It was also disclosed that in addition to the existing telecommunication system licences and frequency licences, 3 other types of licences will be introduced. 

Accordingly, it will provide provisions to issue licences to companies that provide infrastructure, in addition to the companies that provide telecommunication services. The officials also stated that the powers of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission will be strengthened through these amendments.

Furthermore, the officials also pointed out that through these amendments, there is an opportunity to give the customer the advantage of reducing tariffs in the market competition. It was also discussed that provisions that have been provided in the legislature to ensure security of undersea telecommunication cables.

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