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Philippines OKs SpaceX broadband services as SE Asia first

Ramon Lopez Philippines.jpg

The Philippines will be the first country in south-east Asia to be served by SpaceX’s Starlink satellite service, the government has announced.

Trade secretary Ramon Lopez (pictured) committed assistance to SpaceX to provide internet services in the Philippines using its low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite network constellation.

Lopez said: “Their system will augment as well as complement existing broadband capacities. This will further capacitate micro, small, and medium enterprises, facilitate online learning, e-commerce and fintech.”

The deal means local telcos Globe and PLDT, as well as China Telecom-backed Dito, will find a new competitor in the market.

Lopez said the launch of Starlink services in the country will enable much faster broadband speeds, better connectivity, more capacity for telecommunications services and more affordable rates for consumers.

Elon Musk, boss of SpaceX, announced this week that it will double the number of Starlink satellites in service over the coming 18 months.

He tweeted: “Expecting over 4200 Starlink satellites in operation within 18 months, which is ~2/3 of all active satellites of Earth” Though there is no official figure, observers believe there are now more than 1,600 Starlink satellites in service.

The Philippines Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said that preparations are underway for the registration of Starlink services, after Lopez met SpaceX senior executives Rebecca Hunter and Ryan Goodnight.

SpaceX said that the signing of the amended Public Service Act, which allows up to 100% foreign ownership of public services in the country, was a critical factor in the company’s decision to invest, as all its technologies are proprietary.

The DTI said SpaceX’s application is being processed and the locations of their gateways are being visited.

The company is establishing a local Filipino entity that will be its wholly-owned subsidiary and is targeting to deploy three gateways in the first phase of the service launch.