Starlink must obey Türkiye’s rules to operate here: Official

SpaceX’s satellite internet venture Starlink needs to fully comply with Turkish regulations to operate in Türkiye, a senior official told Anadolu days after Elon Musk’s company applied for a license in the country.

After a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Musk in New York, “all the Starlink team came back to Türkiye and we had very fruitful discussions at the BTK (Information and Communication Technologies Authority office) with other official government entities,” according to Ali Taha Koc, head of Türkiye’s Digital Transformation Office.

“So, it was a very fruitful discussion with Elon Musk and our president (Erdogan),” Koc told Anadolu on the sidelines of the ongoing TEKNOFEST, Türkiye’s premier technology and aerospace event being held in the Aegean Izmir province.

Starlink, a satellite constellation operated by SpaceX, provides internet coverage in over 60 countries with around 4,500 mass-produced small satellites.

Erdogan met Musk last week in New York during his trip for the UN General Assembly session.

The Turkish president informed Musk about Türkiye’s technological breakthroughs, as well as the Digital Türkiye Vision and the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy, according to a statement issued by the Turkish Communications Directorate.

“Erdogan called on Tesla to establish its seventh factory in Türkiye,” read the statement.

“President Erdogan stated that opportunities for collaboration with SpaceX may arise through the steps taken and to be taken as part of Türkiye’s space program, and invited Musk to TEKNOFEST to be held in Izmir.”

Koc was among the officials who accompanied the president to New York.

“What happened is we discussed all the different technologies; from SpaceX, Starlink, Tesla, Neuralink, all the topics were discussed. But the main focus was the Starlink and how the Starlink service is going to be enabled in Türkiye,” he said.

“We had very fruitful discussions. We also put forward our requirements and told them … what kind of regulations they need to obey.”

Once the “regulations are fixed and they obey the rules of Türkiye, we’ll be happy to host them or use them in Türkiye,” Koc said.

“Our main goal is to have our digital sovereignty. If we have our digital sovereignty, there’s no issue at all,” he said.

“Lots of negotiations are going on, and also we informed them about our regulatory bodies, and the names and the laws,” he added.

Asked whether Türkiye and Starlink are close to sealing a deal, Koc said: “If they agree to obey those rules and regulations, why not?”

He added that it will “take some time … (and) it depends on them,” particularly on “how easy it is for them to obey our regulations.”

In a Sept. 20 post on Musk’s social media platform X, Türkiye’s Deputy Transport and Infrastructure Minister Omer Fatih Sayan said Starlink has submitted a request “to operate in our country.”

He also said the two sides held a “productive meeting” on the matter.​​​​​​​