Philippines grants license to Elon Musk’s satellite services

MANILA: The Philippines’ telecommunications regulator has granted a license to Starlink, billionaire Elon Musk’s satellite broadband internet business, which is expected to improve connectivity in a country struggling with slow internet speeds.

The National Telecommunications Commission said Starlink’s approval for registration as a value-added service provider means the company can directly access satellite systems and operate broadband facilities to deliver internet services across the Philippines.

Starlink, the satellite internet division of Musk’s rocket company SpaceX, is expected to begin offering its services in the archipelago nation in the coming months, NTC said in a statement.

“The NTC is committed to helping ensure that the deployment of Starlink’s Internet access services will proceed quickly and in a professional manner,” said NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba.

NTC said the Philippines will be the first country in Southeast Asia to offer Starlink services, which authorities say will cover areas that remain unserved or underserved with internet access at an economical rate.

“Using advanced low-orbit satellites, Starlink will enable video calling, online gaming, streaming and other high data activities never before possible with satellite internet,” the commission said. .

Starlink services are currently available in around 30 countries, mainly in North America and Europe. The company has so far deployed more than 2,000 satellites and plans to launch thousands more.

“One Starlink can provide Internet for a whole school of hundreds of students… Great potential to lift people out of poverty. Providing the internet is teaching people how to fish,” Musk said in a couple of tweets on Saturday, which followed his announcement of Starlink’s approval in the Philippines.

The Philippines lags behind most Southeast Asian countries in mobile and fixed broadband internet speed, ranking 95th and 59th respectively in the world as of April 2022, according to the Speedtest Global Index.

Stephen Cutler, a Manila cybersecurity expert and tech entrepreneur, said Starlink will provide a good alternative news network in the Philippines.

“I’m very, very excited about the opportunity for a company like Starlink to be able to provide relatively fast data transfer at a competitive cost,” Cutler told Arab News, adding that the services provided by carriers Telecommunications in the Philippines are still relatively expensive.

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