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By 2017-02-17

By Ishara Gamage

Sri Lanka might abandon the two-year-old Google Loon project trial, if the Sri Lanka's regulatory authorities fail to allocate the much needed spectrum facility, Minister of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Harin Fernando told yesterday.

Last December Ceylon FT exclusively reported that Sri Lanka might abandon this project due to objections made by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

He said due to this Sri Lankan spectrum issue, Google is now considering to shift this project in to another country, most probably a country not bound by the ITU regulations.

Addressing a press conference in Colombo with regard to the Google Loon Project, he said, on 30 November 2016 Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) has sought clarification from the ITU .

"They have informed ICTA that the required frequencies cannot be released for the proposed test of Google Loon".

Ceylon FT learned that the ITU has strongly advised the TRCSL not to authorize this experiment without prior consultations with Sri Lanka's neighbouring countries and the public of Sri Lanka.

The ITU has stated that granting the required space may affect service in other countries in ways that may be difficult to identify even once the bands are specified in more detail.

Responding to the Ceylon FT question, minister said that there's no such thing as public opinion but there is a spectrum allocation issue. However, he said there was no government costs involved in carrying out this Project Loon discussion.

He said with regard to this spectrum issue, the Cabinet recommended seeking the advice of the Attorney General.

The Attorney General coordinated consultations in this connection with the participation of the Secretary, Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure and senior representatives from both TRCSL and ICTA.

The report of the Attorney General is to be presented to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Management chaired by the Prime Minister, he said.

Meanwhile, speaking to the Ceylon FT the telecom sector experts said Sri Lanka hasn't completed the ground work before announcing this project.

"Sri Lanka must obey the ITU regulations," they said.




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