Starlink PH: What We Know So Far About Elon Musk's Satellite Internet Service
by: The Beat Asia
August 18, 2022
It may come as a surprise that internet speed in the Philippines isn’t the worst in the world, but we cannot say it’s fast enough either when compared to other countries.
According to the Global Internet Accessibility Index by Broadbandchoices, the Philippines ranked 64th out of 164 countries in 2022 in terms of connectivity. The study used 10 ranking methods, such as average internet speeds, cost, and affordability of home broadband deals, to determine which countries are the most and least connected. The Philippines got a score of 82.9, with its average download speed of 9.7 Megabits per second (Mbit/s) at US$49.7 or around P2,770 per month.
Not bad, but it could have been better since connectivity also depends on where you live in the country. This brings us to the question, is there any other option? Well, there is, and the Philippines will be the first in Southeast Asia to experience it.
What is Starlink?
Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX, a manufacturer of advanced spacecraft founded by billionaire Elon Musk. It uses a low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite system to provide low-latency, high bandwidth broadband internet service around the world. This means a user won’t need fiber cables or cell towers to access high-speed internet as data will be transmitted via signals sent through space.
Why is Starlink a Big Deal?
Many rural areas in the Philippines have little to no access to telecommunication services due to the lack (or absence) of cell towers. As remote areas are known to have difficult terrains and fewer heavy users, many telco companies find it challenging to set up a facility as they might lose revenue if they ever lay down fiber optic cables or submarine cables. Not to mention the maintenance involved.
This divide in people’s access to telecommunication services can be solved by Starlink.
Who Can Benefit from Starlink?
Simply put, the grand idea behind Starlink is to help people connect to the internet regardless of location (as long as you have their satellite dish set up). Whether it’s the mountains or a small far-away coastal island, anywhere will be possible. The people who will benefit the most are those who live in extremely remote areas, or what they call the unserved and underserved areas.
How Much Does It Cost to Set Up Starlink?
The service has yet to launch, so it’s difficult to tell how much it will truly cost when it arrives in the Philippines as its initial pricing increased in March 2022.
- Slot reservation with a deposit of US$99 (around P5,522)
- Starlink Kit (satellite dish, Wi-Fi router, cables, and base) – US$599 (around P33,408), which was initially at US$499 (around P27,830)
- Cost of service per month – US$110 (around P6,135) per month, which was initially at US$99
To estimate, almost P40,000 is needed to set up, and this doesn’t include the monthly fees yet.
This may seem too much for someone living in remote areas, but Starlink doesn’t need to be installed in each household individually. Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Ivan John Uy said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that the cost can be shared among users. “These things do not need to be in individual homes, they can be shared by the community. I think that is strategic,” he was quoted as saying.
When Will Starlink Be Available in the Philippines?
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has approved the registration of Starlink Internet Services Philippines, Inc. — a subsidiary of SpaceX — as a value-added service (VAS) provider on May 27, 2022. This means that the company will have direct access to satellite systems, allowing them to build and operate broadband facilities that offer internet services to unserved and underserved areas.
In the recently amended Republic Act (RA) No. 11659 or the Public Service Act, which was signed by former President Rodrigo Duterte on March 21, 2022, the country now allows up to 100% foreign ownership in certain public services, including telecommunications. With Starlink wanting to enter the market, it’s no wonder they got a swift approval.
According to its website, Starlink will be available in the Philippines starting the fourth quarter of 2022.
Where Can You Install the Satellite?
The Starlink satellite dish needs a clear view of the sky to “stay connected with satellites as they move overhead.” While the Starlink Kit is ideal for ground level installation, there are other mounting options available, such as a pipe adapter, a flashing mount, a volcano mount, and a ground pole mount, if there are obstructions in your area. To be sure, you’ll need to download the Starlink App (available for iOS and Android) to find the perfect location.
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