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To use low earth orbit satellites for connectivity

PLDT follows Converge into satellite internet services

/ 04:15 AM March 02, 2022

PLDT Inc. said it was a “step closer” to offering satellite services to communities and businesses in far-flung areas of the Philippines following a successful test run with satellite operator Telesat of Canada.

The on-orbit testing of high-speed broadband involved Telesat’s Phase 1 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite. This was conducted last Feb. 11 to Feb. 19 using PLDT’s ground antennas located at its office in Greenhills, San Juan, in Metro Manila.

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“This successful test signals opportunities for PLDT and its wireless unit, Smart Communications Inc., to use innovations in the satellite industry to expand their high-speed mobile and internet services to more hard-to-reach communities across an archipelago like the Philippines,” telco giant said in a statement on Tuesday.

During the live test, PLDT said the service reached download and upload speeds of 100.46 megabits per second and 95.62 Mbps, respectively, and roundtrip latency of 26.53 milliseconds.

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The company added this was adequate for video conferencing, gaming and movie streaming.

“Last year, we started looking into using LEO satellites to bring high-speed connectivity directly to our customers’ smartphones in far-flung areas without broadband internet services,” Mario G. Tamayo, head of technology at PLDT and Smart, said in the statement.

Satellite experience

PLDT had previously tapped internet satellites for the maritime industry and during natural disasters.

Its SmartSAT devices were used to help reconnect Cebu, Dinagat, Siargao and Surigao in the aftermath of super Typhoon “Odette” (international name: Rai) and provide “vital communication links for local officials and response teams conducting rescue, relief and recovery.”

The adoption of low-orbit satellites to beam internet to the planet’s surface has been gaining ground with the entry of tech billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in this segment.

Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. had started to deploy LEO broadband satellites around the world—recently including conflict areas in Ukraine following the invasion of Russian forces last week.

Converge ICT Solutions co-founder and CEO Dennis Anthony Uy said last month they had started to lease fiber lines and other ground support equipment for SpaceX’s satellite broadband venture, and was set to launch commercial services in the Philippines in 2023.

—Miguel R. Camus INQ

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