Minister of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Harin Fernando convened a media briefing today regarding the Google Loon Project.
The Google Loon project which aimed to provide high speed internet facilities to the country was at the center of controversy in the recent days. Several civil society organizations accused that the Google Loon project was a front to acquire the electronic spectrum of our country by a company named “Rama Corporation”.
Minister of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure,Harin Fernando said that he is not in charge of the telecommunication regulatory commission nor is he in charge of spectrum.
The TRC approval is needed to carry out the Pilot Project and permission was asked according to the minister
He explained that Google used Rama Corporation to carry out the project in the country but there is no commercial agreement with the Rama Corporation.
“We have not signed any commercial agreement at any time. The government has not agreed to provide the approval since this is a pilot project. If this is successful then we have to go into an agreement. There is no corrupt deal here.”
He added that facts have been reported to the government and cabinet approval was received and Chamath Palihapitiya is also the Sri Lankan ambassador to the Silicone valley.
“We have not used a cent of Sri Lankan tax payers money for this project, We have not sold our spectrum to anyone.”he said
The Minister added that Chamath Palihapitiya is a main person in this Rama Corporation because Google does not have an office in Sri Lanka therefore appointed Palihapitiya as an agent
Anti-corruption activists also voiced their views on the Google Loon project in Sri Lanka …
Voice Against Corruption charged that the project is merely a front for ‘Rama Company’ to purchase the spectrum of the country
Wasantha Samarasinghe alleged that one frequency will be given at first for the test and next they will calls for tenders for the rest and then Rama will purchase a majority of it while TV Channels, Radio Channels and some telcos will purchase the rest and then anyone else who wants to purchase frequencies thereafter have to purchase it from Rama.
This could lead to this company even having a say in telecommunication rates and charges according to Samarasinghe
“This is a scam, this is a scam which has stalled and is slowly unravelling. We need technology, why cant the TRC enter into an agreement directly with Google and implement such a project? However if the rights to the spectrum of our country goes into the hands of a certain company, imagine what could happen ..”
Chairman of the Anti Corruption Front,Ven. Ulapane Sumangala Thera alleged that the Minister, the Prime Minister and the Government has been mislead and this is merely an attempt at using state assets such as the spectrum to benefit a close group of friends.
He further added that it is clear that this is a racket and serious doubts and concerns have risen about the people behind these companies and their actions.
“We are not against new technology being introduced to the country. However if they are gearing up for a scam then as citizens we will stand up against it ..”