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Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Feb 23, 2023

Starlink services now available in PH

Starlink of Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) is now live in the Philippines. We are the first country in Southeast Asia to enjoy Starlink’s services that is expected to provide download speeds of up to 200 Mbps.

The activation of Starlink will greatly support our government’s goal of providing internet connectivity across the country.

One of the challenges in ensuring universal connectivity is the Philippines’ archipelagic nature. Which is why the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) welcomes new technologies, such as SpaceX’s constellation of satellites, to reach areas of the country where existing telco providers cannot get to because laying fiber cables or establishing cell towers prove to be challenging.

Starlink is composed of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites. It works by sending data via radio signals sent through space instead of through cables of optical fibers. The system also includes earth stations that are used to communicate with the satellites in orbit and provide high-speed internet to consumers.

As of February 2023, it is comprised of over 3,580 operational satellites. But SpaceX aims to have as many as 40,000 satellites to be able to deliver high-speed, low-cost internet to remote regions across the globe.

Universal connectivity

The DICT under the leadership of Secretary Ivan John Uy is prioritizing the deployment of digital connectivity and building of vital infrastructure to reach the underserved and unserved areas of the country.

The BroadBand ng Masa Program aims to close the digital divide and elevate the Filipinos’ living standard by deploying broadband connectivity across the country through fiber optic cables and wireless technologies.

The Luzon Bypass Infrastructure will increase government internet capacity by 50 times — from the current government capacity of only 40,000 Mbps, it will increase to 2,000,000 Mbps. Meanwhile, the Free Wi-Fi program has already provided free Wi-Fi sites in 17 regions, 75 provinces and Metro Manila, and 606 cities and municipalities nationwide, including those at the geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDAs), such as Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Pag-asa Island in Kalayaan Group of Islands.

DICT Secretary Ivan Uy said that the presence of Starlink in the country will augment and complement existing broadband capacities, enabling faster broadband speed and better connectivity, particularly in areas where connectivity has been difficult or impossible.

Through this, internet connection can reach Filipinos in remote areas and they can have access to education, health services, and online banking, among other digital needs.

Technologies such as satellite internet can greatly aid developing countries like the Philippines bridge the digital divide and ensure universal connectivity so we can realize President Bongbong Marcos’ vision of a truly digital Philippines where no Filipino is left behind.

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