Many Filipinos still dream of faster and more reliable internet services. So when we heard the news of Elon Musk’s SpaceX entering the game with Starlink, we got excited!
Starlink is a satellite constellation being constructed by SpaceX to provide satellite Internet access. The constellation will consist of thousands of mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), working in combination with ground transceivers.
It now has 540 internet satellites in low Earth Orbit since its last launch on June 13, 2020, but needs at least 800 for moderate coverage, according to a report.
Elon Musk, in several interviews announced the following of the service:
- designed to not compete with existing Internet Service Providers (maybe not yet) as it will focus on rural and hard-to-reach areas
- subscribers will rely on user terminals that “look like a UFO on a stick”
- predicts less than 20 milliseconds in latency
- may cost less than USD $80 per month
Recently, their website has started accommodating sign-ups for announcements and updates to become beta-testers or early adopters of their service.
The site welcomes you with form-entries and reads “Get updates on Starlink news and service availability in your area:”, where you can enter your e-mail address, zip/postal code, and country.
What can we expect in the Philippines?
The fact that Starlink asked for a post code and country (unlike being limited to only certain countries), indicates it is inevitably going to be served globally.
We will have to see too if the Philippine government regulators will allow it to serve customers in the country. We have to consider the clout of existing, major telcos who may want to protect their business.
Now sadly, Filipinos can’t expect any beta-testing any time within 2020. The Starlink website further says “Starlink is targeting service in the Northern U.S. and Canada in 2020, rapidly expanding to near global coverage of the populated world by 2021.”
But by signing up, “you will be notified via email if beta testing opportunities become available in your area.”
Pressure is certainly mounting on existing telcos that more can still be done to reach rural areas — upgrade wireless services if their fixed line services can’t reach the area, and maybe put up more shared cell sites. I’m sure this still applies even to the urban areas!
But nevertheless, Starlink is cool and we’re excited!