After Starlink, more satellite internet firms eyeing PH as battleground

After Starlink, more satellite internet firms eyeing PH as battleground
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Following the entry of Elon Musk’s Starlink in the Philippines, more companies are eyeing to provide satellite-enabled internet services as the country progresses in the digitalization era.

With the launch of six of 11 satellites called O3b mPower this year, Luxembourg-based connectivity solutions firm SES is also set to expand its footprint to cover the Philippines. Rob Marabut, SES director for business development network, said the company aimed to offer this internet service to Filipinos by 2023.

Marabut said the satellites could “support massive increase in the 4G and 5G mobile deployments in remote areas” and deliver internet at a speed of 1 gigabyte per second anywhere in the country.

“Our access to the internet is much quicker. And also when you are using a mobile phone on a satellite network, the quality is also much better,” he said.

Marabut said SES was looking at teaming up with local service providers and operators to help them with regulatory requirements.

Local technology startup Quicksilver Satcom Ventures, in a statement on Wednesday, also expressed interest in boosting internet penetration in underserved segments via satellite technology.

While satellite-based internet could help address typical problems arising from fiber or wire-based services, affordability could be an issue.

Quicksilver, which is funded by Ignite Impact Fund, seeks to collaborate with local government units and private clients to establish service areas and help in economic development.

“Quicksilver’s goals of providing not only free and accessible, but also consistent and reliable internet connectivity goes a long way toward alleviating poverty among the poorest of Filipinos,” added Maoi Arroyo, Ignite cofounder.

Jose del Rosario, research director of satellite and space consultancy firm Northern Sky Research, said during a briefing on Wednesday that satellites could bridge the digital divide since they could reach far-flung areas where current infrastructures could not.

“What the pandemic has done is that it enabled us to reach a level of usage that goes beyond 2019 levels and … it [is still showing a] growth trajectory,” he said.

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