Starlink told to speed up Philippine entry

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Billionaire Elon Musk’s Starlink has been told to hasten its expansion in the Philippines to compel its fellow telco players in the US to explore opportunities in the country.

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez told reporters the Philippines would receive a new set of telco investments from the United States within the year.

He said the US government has directed Starlink, operated by Musk’s SpaceX, to expedite its move to operate in the country.

“The US government has encouraged SpaceX to speed up agreements here in the Philippines. There has already been an agreement and that will definitely make it faster for us to be able to improve connectivity,” Romualdez said.

Starlink was supposed to enter the Philippine market by December 2022. However, Information Assistant Secretary Philip Varilla said Starlink’s entry was moved to the first semester of 2023 on delays in the production and deployment of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites.

The Philippine government wants to tap Starlink as the broadband provider for Filipinos in remote areas where local telcos find difficulty putting up their terrestrial infrastructure.

Starlink plans to offer in the Philippines its satellite equipment at $599 per unit and connectivity service at $99 monthly, promising a download speed of 200 Mbps with latency of 20 ms.

Starlink launches LEO satellites into space to beam internet to the surface, making its services available anywhere in the world even in far-flung areas.

Apart from Starlink, Romualdez said US-based telcos are expected to enter into deals with their Philippine counterparts for the expansion of connectivity assets across the archipelago.

“There are quite a number of companies interested in working with our telco companies. Digital is important for us, that’s the reason. After the visit of President Marcos in New York [last year], there are quite a number of companies interested in our telco. Digital infrastructure is one of the main pillars of what we like to develop,” Romualdez said.

In 2022, SBA Communications Corp. committed to invest at least P11 billion in the Philippines in line with its goal of building nearly 1,500 towers within the next five years.

Last week, NOW Telecom Inc. received the grant from the US government for the deployment of 5G services across the country to serve the rising demand for connectivity.


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