Starlink satellite internet deployment delayed
Filipino consumers will have to wait longer before they can access the satellite-based internet offering by Starlink Internet Services Philippines Inc., a unit of tech billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX, according to a Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) official.
In a recent event, DICT Assistant Secretary for Connectivity Philip Varilla said that Starlink Philippines would be rolling out its services by the “middle of next year,” which was later than the December target.
He said the SpaceX unit’s plan of launching about 4,400 satellites was a massive undertaking, making delays in their commercial operations in the country likely.
“It is very difficult to launch that many satellites. But they’re saying that they can complete it and service the Philippines by that time,” he said.
In July, the DICT disclosed its plan of deploying satellite technology in far-flung areas by the first quarter of next year through a collaboration with Starlink. This target, however, would be delayed as well given the latest development.
Varilla said that the government agency was seeking to “connect geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas, those [which] are really far from our telecommunications infrastructure so that they will be connected to the internet.”
DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy previously said they would work with the local government units in setting up the needed equipment to roll out the satellite technology.
Uy raised the need to allocate a budget for this initiative to ensure it would be available for free. A Starlink satellite dish costs $599 while a monthly subscription is at $99.
Enhancing internet connectivity in rural areas is crucial in supporting digital activities, including telemedicine, e-commerce and online learning, the DICT chief stressed.
The Philippines is set to be the first country in Southeast Asia where the SpaceX division will offer satellite-based internet services. It has high speed low latency satellite internet service whose download speed ranges from 100 megabits per second (Mbps) to 200 Mbps.
In May, the National Telecommunications Commission approved the application of Starlink as an internet service provider.
Varilla said there were also other satellite providers eyeing to establish operations in the country.
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