Green light for SEA’s first satellite broadband

THE National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has approved the registration of Starlink Internet Philippines Inc., a subsidiary of California-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX).

NTC’s approval sets the stage for Starlink to start providing satellite internet services in the Philippines, which becomes the first country in Southeast Asia and the 32nd in the world to access SpaceX’s broadband technology.

An attached agency of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the NTC is responsible for the regulation, supervision and control over all telecommunications services and broadcast networks throughout the archipelago.

Acting DICT Secretary Emmanuel Rey R. Caintic has also issued a certificate of accreditation to Starlink Philippines as a satellite systems provider and operator (SSPO). Such accreditation is granted only to qualified entries after faithful compliance with the prescribed procedures and requirements for SSPOs.

During the DICT consultation at Manila Polo Club in Makati City last week, on hand to receive the SSPO certificate was Rebecca Hunter, SpaceX Senior Manager for Market Access. She has attended several hearings at the Philippine Senate along with DFNN Inc. Executive Chairman Ramon C. Garcia Jr., who was instrumental in bringing Starlink to the country.

Garcia said the recent passage of Republic Act 11659, which amended the Commonwealth-era Public Service Act of 1936, paved the way for Starlink to operate in the Philippines. The new law is a major development in the country’s foreign investement policy since it relaxes foreign ownership restrictions and allows non-Filipinos to own 100 percent of businesses that are considered as public services.

Founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, the world’s richest person according to Forbes magazine, SpaceX is poised to revolutionize space technology. It is both a provider of space transportation services and a communications company with the goal of reducing the costs of space travel to enable the colonization of Planet Mars.

“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great—and that’s what being a space-faring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars,” Musk intimated.

SpaceX has gained global attention for a series of historic milestones. It is the first and only private firm that is capable of returning a spacecraft from low earth orbit. Its Dragon spaceship became the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS) in 2012. More recently, it achieved another milestone as the first private company to take human beings to the ISS as well.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez lauded the entry of Starlink into the Philippines. Lopez believes this will bring about a much faster broadband speed, better internet connectivity, more capacity for telecommunications services and more affordable rates for Filipino consumers—particularly to those in far-flung rural areas where connectivity has been difficult or outright impossible.

Lopez committed the assistance of the Department of Trade and Industry to the establishment of Starlink Philippines as it would further capacitate micro, small and medium enterprises as well as facilitate online learning, e-commerce and fintech.

Joseph Gamboa is the chairman of the Finex Media Affairs Committee and director of Noble Asia Industrial Corp. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinion of these institutions and the BusinessMirror. #FinexPhils www.finex.org.ph.