Go operational, Starlink prodded

Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

The National Telecommunications Commission has pressed Starlink Internet Services Philippines Inc. of billionaire Elon Musk to expedite the completion of its regulatory requirements so it can start commercial operations nationwide.

NTC Officer-in-Charge Commissioner Ella Blanca B. Lopez said Starlink’s rollout will complement the efforts of telecommunications firms to provide users with reliable and fast internet services.

“The commission continues to work with Starlink in ensuring the latter’s immediate commercial roll-out, provided it complies with all existing and subsequent laws, circulars, orders, rules and regulations,” Lopez said.

“Starlink’s Internet service offering is a welcome development in achieving President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s plan to digitally link the archipelago,” she added.

According to the NTC, Starlink’s user terminals are classified as customer premise equipment and will not be subjected to the same radio station licensing requirement as it nears its commercial roll-out.

The commission’s approval, however, will require Starlink to comply with, among other things, filing its application for the modification of its type acceptance certificates with the NTC’s Equipment Standards Division.

Starlink is also mandated to go through the Commission’s Regulation Branch, National Capital Region office, and Radio Spectrum Planning Division to obtain permits to import, product registration, and submission of an Affidavit of Undertaking.

A Starlink kit costs $599 or approximately P33,000, and monthly Internet service with no data cap costs $99 or about P5,500. It boasts speeds of up to 200 Mbps and latency as low as 20ms for residential use.

The Philippines will be the first country in Southeast Asia to avail of such technology, which can fill the connectivity gaps, especially in the unserved and underserved areas.

The Starlink constellation consisted of over 1,600 satellites in mid-2021 and will eventually comprise thousands more mass-produced small satellites in LEO, which communicate with designated ground transceivers.

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