Elon Musk’s SpaceX links up with Filipino firms to bring Starlink services to PH
American tech billionaire Elon Musk is firming up deals with Filipino companies ahead of Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s (SpaceX) rollout of satellite internet services in the Philippines in 2022.
Through its Starlink project, SpaceX will launch thousands of satellites into low earth orbit to form a constellation of spacecraft capable of beaming high-speed internet to difficult-to-reach areas around the globe.
Starlink’s planned debut in the Philippines next year requires local partners with legislative franchises and infrastructure, including earth stations, which are ground-based transmitters that communicate with satellites, and fiber cables.
Potential partners include businessman Arsenio Ng’s Transpacific Broadband Group International, which disclosed that its board approved discussions with a number of satellite operators, including SpaceX.
A source told the Inquirer on Thursday that Pampanga-based businessman Dennis Anthony H. Uy’s Converge ICT Solutions is nearing a separate agreement with SpaceX that will involve the use of several earth stations and its nationwide internet backbone.
Previously deployed exclusively for military and scientific purposes, low orbit satellites have caught the attention of tech moguls Musk and Jeff Bezos of Amazon for their ability to provide high-speed internet to locations without fiber lines and cell towers.
Because they hold orbit closer to the planet’s surface—Starlink’s newer spacecraft will operate at an altitude below 570 kilometers—thousands of networked satellites are required for reliable connectivity.
Starlink earlier announced a beta test run in the United States and parts of Canada.
It will begin commercial coverage in the Philippines in 2022 with preorders for the service starting at $99 (P5,000), which is priced similar to high-end plans of local internet service providers.
On Thursday, Transpacific Broadband said it sealed a three-year managed service agreement with satellite operator ABS Global Ltd. on Oct. 27.
This would allow it to provide colocation facilities and the development and maintenance of an earth station in Clark, Pampanga, for Starlink Holdings, it said in a stock exchange filing.
Following the disclosure, Transpacific Broadband shares surged higher by 22 percent before closing the session up 5.9 percent to P0.36 per share.
Shares of fiber internet giant Converge shed 0.3 percent to P32.85 apiece.
On Feb. 15, Converge confirmed reports by the Inquirer and the news website Bilyonaryo that it was in talks with SpaceX to “bring high-speed broadband to far-flung areas in the country.”
The Philippines has an internet penetration rate of 67 percent, leaving large portions of the population without access to online services, data from the Digital 2021 Philippine Report showed.
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