Manila: A new law allowing 100% foreign ownership of key industries in the Philippines has prompted SpaceX, the aerospace company controlled by Elon Musk, to enter the country, the government announced Thursday (March 31, 2022).
The move could give the archipelagic nation of 7,640 islands access to SpaceX's low earth orbit satellite (LEO) constellation, known as "Starlink", the Department of Trade and Industry said Thursday.
Starlink is comprised of over 2,000 operational satellites already in orbit. The whole network is expected to launch up to 40,000 LEOs.
“Preparations are underway for their registration,” the DTI said in a statement to local media. “At present, their application is being processed and the locations of their gateways are being visited.”
Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said SpaceX's entry in the Philipines would be the first in Southeast Asia, and deliver broadband internet connectivity in the country, especially in underserved and remote islands.
SpaceX is understood to be currently establishing a local Filipino entity as a wholly-owned subsidiary and is targeting to deploy gateways to roll out their service in the country, Lopez said.
Lopez met Rebecca Hunter, SpaceX senior manager for Government Affairs, and SpaceX Market Access director Ryan Goodnight on Wednesday (March 30, 2022). The meeting came as the company is conducting registration formalities to roll out StarLink services in the Asian country.
“Their system will augment, as well as complement existing broadband capacities. This will further capacitate micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), facilitate online learning, e-commerce, and fintech," Lopez said.
New law allows 100% foreign ownership
The country has a young population and a growing consumer base. A new law which amended the Public Service Act, now allows 100% foreign ownership of key industries, such as airlines and telecoms. The move was crucial in SpaceX’s decision to enter the local market, the department said.
Terry Ridon, convenor at public policy think tank Infrawatch, said the entry of satellite broadband services in the Philippines will keep competitors on their toes.
As of December 2021, some beta testers in Australia reported speeds of up to 200 mbps while driving a car at 100 km/h.
The Philippines' Board of Investments (BOI) has also vowed to facilitate the application of SpaceX for its registration under the Strategic Investment Priority Plan, the trade chief said. SpaceX is already in the process of selecting sites for its gateways, said Lopez.