Sri Lanka Greenlights Elon Musk’s Starlink for Satellite Internet Services

Sri Lanka approves Starlink for satellite internet, enhancing connectivity in education, agriculture, tourism, and research.

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Sri Lanka has granted preliminary approval to Elon Musk’s Starlink, the satellite internet division of SpaceX, to provide its services in the country. This decision was expedited following a meeting between President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Musk at the 10th World Water Forum in Indonesia.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) has initiated a two-week public consultation period before finalizing the approval. This initiative aims to bring high-speed internet to rural areas and enhance sectors such as education, research, tourism, fisheries, and agriculture.

State Minister of Technology Kanaka Herath highlighted the transformative potential of Starlink’s satellite-based internet during a media briefing at the Presidential Media Centre (PMC). He emphasized that unlike traditional internet services relying on terrestrial towers, Starlink’s satellite technology can deliver fast and reliable internet access anywhere in the country.

Fast-Tracked Approval and Future Plans

President Wickremesinghe and Elon Musk discussed accelerating Starlink’s application process, aiming to improve internet connectivity across Sri Lanka. Currently, around 2,000 Starlink network centers operate globally, providing high-speed internet in 32 countries.

ranil wickremesinghe and elon musk

The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission has approved Starlink under Sections 17 and 22 of the Telecommunications Regulatory Act, granting it a frequency license. Future amendments to the Act will enable the issuance of a Telecommunications Service Provider license.

Benefits Across Sectors

The introduction of Starlink is expected to significantly benefit various sectors:

  • Education: Students will gain access to high-speed internet for online learning and research.
  • Fisheries and Agriculture: Enhanced connectivity will support modern farming techniques and efficient resource management.
  • Tourism: Tourists will enjoy reliable internet access, boosting the industry’s appeal.
  • Research: Researchers will have better access to global information and collaborative opportunities.

Cost and Accessibility

The initial setup cost for Starlink ranges between USD 400 and USD 600, with a monthly service fee of USD 99. This service offers internet speeds that surpass existing fiber technology in Sri Lanka, providing a significant boost to the country’s technological infrastructure.

Relief Packages and Future Amendments

To ensure widespread access, President Wickremesinghe has mandated the creation of relief packages for students, fishermen, and researchers. The specifics of these packages are currently being developed.

Director General of TRCSL, Madusanka Dissanayake, noted that while Starlink is not yet established as a telecommunications network company in Sri Lanka, the current approval under the Telecommunications Regulatory Act paves the way for future expansion and service provision.