Starlink Philippines
Emails sent to customers did not mention a specific date; only a "target" of 2022 Starlink service launch in the Philippines. Image Credit: Gulf News / File

FILIPINO customers are being told that Starlink, the satellite internet service of SpaceX, will go “live” across the archipelago this year.

Customers seeking to buy a “starter kit” (satellite dish and router) can now place orders. Customers may purchase the kit online for $499 (about Php25,000) — which is then delivered to the customer’s address. The monthly service fee is $99 (about Php5,000).

The self-stabilising, gimbal-mount dish connects directly to satellites hovering at low-earth orbit.

When will it go live?

Emails sent to customers did not mention a specific date; only a "target" of 2022 Starlink launch in the Asian country, alongside "45 others". 

The project, though not a new idea, could transform the world — by delivering high-speed internet through a network of about 12,000 satellites, initially. On January 5, 2022 Space X launched 49 more satellites, bringing the number of Starlink's constellation to about 1,800 currently in orbit.

“With every launch, we expand our network as well as our ability to serve communities in remote locations,” a SpaceX spokesperson said during the launch.

What’s the Starlink internet speed?

In 2020, the company promised speeds of between 50 and 150 Mbps in North America. In February 2021, Musk said that Startlink’s internet will double to 300 Mbps. As of December 2021, some beta testers in Australia reported speeds of up to 200 mbps while driving a car at 100 km/h.

Starlink Philippines
Image Credit: Twitter

Filipinos signing up

Yes. Manuel G., an overseas Filipino worker, signed up with Starlink, and was told he would get the service up and running this 2022. Manuel is one of the early-mover customers in the Philippines who offered to become part of Starlink “beta-tester” — a term used in software development refers to the final step before the product goes “live”.

Starlink started beta tests in the US in 2020, and later expanded to cover Canada, UK and about 20 other countries.

Coverage

By the end of 2022, the company stated they are “planning to launch” the service in 45 countries — “pending regulatory approval”.

Starlink Philippines
Image Credit: Twitter

Local partner?

No local partner has been named yet (as of this posting). Local media reported in November 2021 that the Space X is talking to two Philippines telcos to serve the local market. The telcos are:

  • Transpacific Broadband Group International Inc. (TBGI), a satellite broadband service provider; and
  • Converge ICT Solutions Inc., a fiber-optic broadband operator.
Starlink Philippines
Image Credit: Twitter

Benefits

Internet speed in the Asian country has greatly improved in urban areas, using broadband fibre-to-the-home technology. However, remote regions and islands suffer from notoriously slow speeds, poor connectivity and bad customer service.

With an internet penetration rate at 67%, it leaves large portions of its 110 million inhabitants without access to online services, data from the Digital 2021 Philippine Report showed.

While Starlink and its competing platforms are not meant to compete with fibre, it would provide an unprecedented high speed, on-the-fly web access for remote parts of the archipelago, made up of 7,640 islands.

Starlink Philippines
Image Credit: Twitter

The Philippines currently ranks 72nd for mobile internet speed and 64th in terms of fixed broadband, according to the Speedtest Global Index.

The recent super-typhoon knocked out terrestrial internet infrastructure, cutting badly-hit areas off completely.

$1trillion

estimated size of the global internet connectivity market.

What are the advantages of LEOs?

  • Low Earth-orbit (LEO) satellite technology offers a unique combination of speed, flexibility and even ease-of-setup.
  • The biggest advantage is low “latency” (delay), currently estimated at 27 to 33 milliseconds.
  • Latency is inversely proportional to satellite’s distance. Compared to a geostationary earth-orbit (GEO) satellites (“parked” at a distance of 34,786 km above the planet), LEO satellites move constantly at an orbit height of about 550km.
  • Because they fly lower, more satellites are needed to cover the plant. But this allows the network to provide consumers a dramatic improvement in speed.
  • This could deliver a superior service for stock trading and the next-level internet-of-things (IoT).
  • For developed countries, it offers better internet especially in rural or hard-to-reach areas.
  • To a big chunk of humanity, it could give the first-ever broadband high-speed internet connection.

Starlink's competition

Competing constellations are also now under development, including OneWeb, Kuiper and others.

Satellite internet speed

Several factors affect performance, such as the number of satellites serving an area, the number of users and the location of the user. If the user is in a moving vehicle, speed may also be affected.

Starlink plans to bring internet connectivity not only to rural areas but also to vehicles such as ships and airlines. For these, the company is developing new terminals, some of which will also carry radiation hazard warnings and will be required to be installed by a professional.