Musk’s SpaceX eager to bring Starlink to PH | Inquirer Business

Musk’s SpaceX eager to bring Starlink to PH

/ 04:05 AM March 01, 2022

SpaceX, a company founded by tech billionaire Elon Musk, is interested to launch satellite internet services in the Philippines through a wholly owned subsidiary, after the government allowed foreign businesses full ownership of their operations in the sector, the Board of Investments (BOI) said.

The BOI said in a statement on Monday that it had been meeting with Space Exploration Technologies Corp., which wants to bring its Starlink project to the Philippines.

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Starlink, which was recently launched in Ukraine to aid citizens facing a Russian invasion, is considered the world’s most advanced broadband internet system, according to its official website. It works by sending information through space, “where it travels much faster than in fiber-optic cable and can reach far more people and places.”

The latest of these meetings with SpaceX was held on Feb. 2, the same day that Congress ratified the amended version of the Public Service Act (PSA), which eased the rules on foreign ownership.

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“[Trade] Undersecretary [and BOI Managing Head Ceferino] Rodolfo had a series of follow-up online meetings with the company, immediately following Senate ratification in December last year and an update session on February 2, upon the ratification of the proposed amendments … allowing full foreign ownership for satellite internet services in the country and not requiring legislative franchise for public services,” the BOI said. “The company eyes to offer satellite internet services in the Philippines, particularly on providing broadband connectivity to remote areas where traditional internet (based on land cables) is limited or virtually absent,” the BOI added. As of press time, a top official did not respond to requests for additional details.

The BOI, along with officials from the Philippine Trade and Investment Center and the Philippine Embassy, met with SpaceX officials in Washington on Nov. 16, “to discuss Starlink’s plan to put up a Philippine-registered company that will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of SpaceX Exploration Technologies Corp, a US corporation.”

Prior to the meeting, the Inquirer reported in October last year that SpaceX was firming up deals with Filipino companies, a move that would require local partners with legislative franchises and infrastructure.

But an amended PSA may mean SpaceX would now no longer need to get a partner before entering the country.

Easier entry

The amended version of the PSA—which was first enacted in 1936—defined public utilities and differentiated these from public services, therefore opening the latter to full foreign ownership. These included internet satellite services, among other sectors that previously restricted how much foreigners can own in their own business. “With the entry of Starlink into the Philippines, high-speed satellite broadband connectivity is expected to be delivered to customers nationwide, specifically in areas where connectivity has been a challenge,” BOI added.

“While most satellite internet services today come from single geostationary satellites that orbit the planet at about 35,000 kilometers, Starlink is a constellation of multiple satellites that orbit the planet much closer to Earth, at about 550km, and cover the entire globe,” the website said.

“Because Starlink satellites are in a low orbit, the round-trip data time between the user and the satellite—also known as latency—is much lower than with satellites in geostationary orbit. This enables Starlink to deliver services like online gaming that are usually not possible on other satellite broadband systems,” it said. INQ

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