Amendments to telecom bill approved allowing Starlink to enter Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s Parliament approved amendments to a decades-old law on Tuesday to allow Elon Musk’s Starlink, the satellite unit of SpaceX, to set up operations in the South Asian island nation.

Sri Lanka’s parliament passed the new telecommunications bill, which amended the existing law for the first time in 28 years, without a vote, parliament’s office said in a statement.

The amendments will introduce three new types of licences and allow Starlink to enter Sri Lanka’s telecoms market as a licensed service provider, pending approval from the telecoms regulator, technology minister Kanaka Herath told parliament.

The original law had no regulations allowing satellite internet service providers to operate in the country.

“This opportunity is not just for Starlink but any other company that wants to invest in Sri Lanka,” Herath told lawmakers on Tuesday while presenting the bill.

“Our plan it to grow the IT sector to a $15 billion industry by 2030. So it is important that we attract international companies to provide internet, especially to rural areas.”

Starlink approached Sri Lanka in March with a proposal to set up operations, Herath told Reuters on Monday. Sri Lanka granted Starlink preliminary approval in June after fast-tracking the process.

Starlink will have to pay a tariff for the licence, Herath added, without giving details.