Selling a National Resource? – Suspicions mount over Project Loon and ‘Rama’

Selling a National Resource? – Suspicions mount over Project Loon and ‘Rama’

Selling a National Resource? – Suspicions mount over Project Loon and ‘Rama’

Written by Lahiru Fernando

13 Feb, 2017 | 11:10 pm

Almost a year ago –  on February15,  2016 to be exact – Google’s ‘Project Loon’ entered Sri Lankan air-space.

What is ‘Project Loon’?

Launched by American tech giant ‘Google’ – it is a network of balloons travelling on the edge of space, designed to connect people in rural and remote areas.

The balloons will travel around 20 km above the earth’s surface, in the stratosphere well above weather events, wildlife and airplanes.

Each helium-based balloon can remain operational at this altitude for about 100 days and provide LTE internet coverage to a ground area about 80 km in diameter. The balloons relay wireless traffic from cell phones and other devices back to the global Internet using high-speed links.

Landed or Crashed in Matale?

Few days after entering Sri Lankan air-space -the balloon ‘landed’ in Matale.

Many including MP Wimal Weerawansa claimed that the balloon in-fact ‘crashed into a tree’. The claim was however dismissed by subject minister Harin Fernando, who tweeted that it was a “successful landing”.

Friday, February 10,  2017. – The VAC raised eyebrows when they questioned a ‘suspicious transaction’ regarding the project.

A National Catastrophe

February 13, 2017 – A letter directed to the Ministry of Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure requests for an explanation on the “serious suspicions”.

The letter by Anti-Corruption Front also raises suspicions over ‘Rama’. – a company which was involved implementing the project in Sri Lanka.

ACF also claims that an effort is underway to purchase the electro-magnetic wave spectrum in the Philippines and Sri Lanka. The front warns of a ‘national catastrophe’ – if transactions are being carried out under the guise of various projects.

In its letter to the Ministry Secretary, the Front calls for an explanation on the company Rama, its shareholders and memorandums of understanding that have already been signed regarding the project.

The Information and Communication Technology Agency

Expecting a response for the questions raised, News 1st contacted the CEO ICTA -the agancy spearheading the project.

However, CEO Muhunthan Canagey, refused to speak on the matter over the phone. He also declined an invitation to visit the News 1st centre.

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