Starlink set to disrupt Phillipines telco market

Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Elon Musk’s SpaceX is set to disrupt the Philippine telco industry, now that it will enter the country in the first quarter of the year with its offer of high-speed internet.

The move would also open exploration opportunities for other US telco players to enter the Philippines, whose internet infrastructure continues to lag far behind its regional peers.

SpaceX will likely feel a huge gap in the country whose internet-crazy population is still struggling with intermittent signal, especially in far-flung areas, its local partner said.

Musk’s SpaceX will enter the country through a partnership with tycoon Henry Sy Jr.’s Data Lake.

SpaceX operates Starlink, which banks on low earth orbit (LEO) satellites to beam internet to the surface.

Starlink’s satellite dishes can be mounted on top of roofs to connect to these LEOs, making the service available to areas unserved by local internet providers.

The partnership between Musk’s SpaceX and Sy’s Data Lake is set to start rolling out this quarter.

Data Lake is the Philippine-based data company of Sy and Anthony Almeda and the first Starlink integrator in the country.

The proponents recently met with President Marcos to discuss the expedited entry of Starlink as a satellite internet provider.

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Ivan John Uy, and Starlink representative Nick Galano were present to support the talks, in response to the US government’s direction to hasten its expansion.

Delays in the production and deployment of LEO satellites pushed back Starlink’s initial December 2022 entry to the first quarter of 2023.

Once established in the country, Starlink will be able to provide high-speed broadband internet to end-users, including remote areas, as it uses satellites positioned in LEOs compared to the conventional and more costly underground fiber optic cables.

Starlink plans to offer its service to Philippine customers at an initial price of $599 per satellite unit and connectivity service at $99 per month, with a download speed of 200 Mbps.

Data Lake vice chairman and CEO Anthony Almeda said the partnership’s service offering would be a game changer in the industry.

“We are excited to finally introduce Starlink to the Philippine market by the first quarter of 2023. The high speed, low latency broadband internet service through the use of satellites will be game changing in connecting our 7,640 islands to the rest of the world. This will also be in line with President Marcos’ push for greater digitization,” Almeda said.

Last year, then president Rodrigo Duterte signed the amended Public Service Act, which has allowed 100 percent foreign ownership in select sectors such as telcos and airports.


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