Marcos eyes deal with Musk firm on internet connectivity
LOS ANGELES — After the Philippines secured a $400-million project with a US-based company for the country’s own internet satellites, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. now also wants a deal with technology giant Starlink of American billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk to improve the perennial connectivity issues in the country.
The President, accompanied by Information and Communications Technology Secretary Ivan John Uy, on Sunday toured Musk’s SpaceX, the aerospace company that operates Starlink.
SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell and vice president for Starlink operations Lauren Dreyer welcomed Marcos and other Philippine officials.
Thing of the past
In his speech during his meeting with the Filipino community here, Marcos said the “slow internet” connection in the Philippines would soon be a thing of the past.
According to a monitoring conducted by network intelligence firm Ookla in the first half of this year, Filipinos use the slowest 5G (fifth generation) connectivity service in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Philippines has been tagged as one of the countries in Asia with the slowest internet speed.
In 2022, a study by the cybersecurity firm Surfshark showed that the Philippines was among the countries with “least affordable” internet services.
Marcos said he was looking forward to improving broadband connectivity in the Philippines through an agreement with Starlink and other internet service providers, which he did not elaborate.
“In the very near future, through these links that we were able to develop on this trip, we are very confident that we will no longer hear complaints about our internet, our online services,” he noted.
“We will instead be hearing [praises] for the speed of our country’s internet connectivity,” he added.
The P\president said: “[Our] vast archipelago is an ideal candidate for satellite broadband service, and we look forward to improving broadband connectivity in the Philippines through Starlink and through all the others.”
Last week, US-based Astranis and Orbits Corp. signed a multimillion-dollar project to bring internet connectivity to unserved and underserved areas in the Philippines.
The satellites — to be called “Agila” — are capable of providing internet connections to up to 10 million users in 30,000 communities in the country.
Marcos, who witnessed the signing of the memorandum of agreement, said the $400-million partnership would “help bridge our digital divide and foster our digital transformation.”
“That is why we are looking for ways to take advantage of the new technologies that are available to us that will increase the productivity of our people,” he told the Filipino community in Los Angeles.
The president said that with the new technologies coming into the Philippines, “We become more effective, we become more efficient, we become more productive.”
He said he already ordered Uy to ensure that the project with Starlink would push through, citing the need to adopt the appropriate technology and bring it to the Philippines.
Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Velicaria Garafil said Starlink’s satellite internet “is touted to have significant advantages with respect to connecting to areas that are difficult to reach like rural communities and island provinces and barangays.”
“Beaming internet signals directly from space, the company ensures wider and better coverage without the need for extensive infrastructure, thus more cost-efficient,” Garafil said.
Starlink’s satellite internet service has been available in the Philippines since February this year through Data Lake Inc., the first authorized reseller in the Philippines jointly owned by businessman Anthony Almeda and tycoon Henry Sy Jr.