Philippines set to green-light Elon Musk's Starlink high-speed satellite internet

·3 min read
(From left to right): Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez, DFNN Executive Chairman Ramon Garcia Jr., SpaceX Senior Manager for Government Affairs Rebecca Hunter, and SpaceX Market Access Director Ryan Goodnight. (Source: DTI website)
(From left to right): Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez, DFNN Executive Chairman Ramon Garcia Jr., SpaceX Senior Manager for Government Affairs Rebecca Hunter, and SpaceX Market Access Director Ryan Goodnight. (Source: DTI website)

Starlink, Elon Musk's satellite-based internet service, will soon operate in the Philippines, potentially bringing high-speed internet access to rural areas.

Ramon Lopez, Secretary for the Department of Trade and Industry, said that preparations were being made to register Musk's aerospace company SpaceX as an internet provider in the Philippines.

The deal would make the Philippines the first country in Southeast Asia to host Starlink's internet service.

Secretary Lopez said he had recently met SpaceX senior executives Rebecca Hunter and Ryan Goodnight, along with NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios and DFNN Executive Chairman Ramon Garcia Jr., to discuss bringing Starlink here.

DTI said that SpaceX's application was currently being processed. "The constellation consists of over 1,600 satellites in mid-2021, and will eventually comprise thousands more of mass-produced small satellites in Low Earth Orbit, which communicate with designated ground transceivers," said the agency in a statement.

SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks on a screen during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, June 29, 2021. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks on a screen during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, June 29, 2021. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

Lopez said the launch of SpaceX and Starlink in the country would enable faster broadband speed, better connectivity, more capacity for telecommunications services and more affordable rates for consumers.

"Their system will augment as well as complement existing broadband capacities. This will further capacitate micro, small, and medium enterprises, facilitate online learning, e-commerce and fintech," said the secretary.

Edward Jay Enriquez, a 21-year-old college student from Samal, Bataan, hoped Starlink's entry would make the internet more accessible and affordable.

"When the pandemic hit, and all aspects of our education shifted online, I had difficulty keeping up because from where I live, there is no stable internet one can rely on. Subscribing to data connection is costly," Enriquez told Yahoo Philippines. "Starlink’s entry to the Philippines is a welcome development especially for us who live in the province. I hope that finally, we get an internet service provider whose service is good but not that expensive."

SpaceX is among a small number of companies developing high-speed internet services through satellite networks in Low Earth Orbit.

The technology promises to deliver broadband connections that can reach rural areas.

Such satellite internet systems beam signals from the atmosphere to antenna receivers on land.

SpaceX Starlink internet terminal installed in Odesa, southern Ukraine, on March 15, 2022. (Photo by Nina Lyashonok/Ukrinform/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
SpaceX Starlink internet terminal installed in Odesa, southern Ukraine, on March 15, 2022. (Photo by Nina Lyashonok/Ukrinform/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

According to SpaceX, data speeds on Starlink vary from 100Mb/s to 200Mb/s.

Such high-speed connections were previously not possible through traditional satellite internet.

SpaceX is the frontrunner in such technology, having signed up more than 10,000 users globally for the Starlink beta since late 2020. The company has also launched over 1,600 internet provider satellites, with plans to eventually send 42,000 satellites into orbit.

Amazon is also developing its own satellite internet network called Kuiper Systems, but has yet to send any satellites into orbit.

Countries where Starlink is providing internet access include the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico.

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