Starlink is live and drawing crowds in rural Philippines

Starlink philippines internet service
Image by Thomas Dutour | Bigstockphoto

Starlink, Elon Musk’s satellite-based internet service, has been making waves in the Philippines, particularly among residents and business owners in rural areas.

With its promise of high-speed internet access even in remote locations, it has generated some buzz among Filipinos who have long struggled with slow and unreliable internet connections.

Since Starlink went live in the country last week, customers in remote locations have been placing orders directly on the website, eagerly waiting for their orders to arrive. The service is seeing demand from customers in mountainous provinces like Benguet and island locations like Sulu.

Starlink was also recently launched at the Pico de Loro Beach and Country Club (PDLBCC), a beach resort in Batangas province. From the announcement in Manila Bulletin:

“With Starlink in the property’s arsenal, peak demand can be addressed with extra bandwidth. Aside from enhanced speeds, connection quality and security are improved. […] Conferences and individuals with high cyber security requirements now have the option of routing their traffic through Starlink. This is particularly useful for diplomatic or corporate guests whose needs are more complex in nature.”

Starlink has a Facebook following

The interest in Starlink among Filipinos is evident from the growing number of members in Facebook groups dedicated to the service.

One major Facebook interest group for Starlink in the country, for instance, has over 7,000 members and counting. Members of the group share their experiences with the service, answer questions from potential users, and offer tips on how to optimize their internet experience.

Some are exploring the service’s suitability for their businesses, such as small community internet shops known as “piso wifi” (coin-operated Wi-Fi vending machines).

However, several group members are also warning others to avoid scammers purporting to be Starlink agents. Instead, they are reiterating the importance of reading official information from the website and ordering directly from Starlink to avoid falling victim to fraudulent activities.

Rural broadband ain’t cheap (yet)

Since it is just the early days of the service in the country, Starlink’s impact on democratizing internet access has yet to be seen.

The service costs PHP 2,700 ($49) per month with a one-time hardware cost of PHP 29,320 ($534). According to the latest figures, the median monthly basic pay of workers in the country is PHP 13,646 ($248).

A representative from Data Lake, Starlink’s integrator in the country, also clarified that the recent rollout is for enterprise users, and that Starlink plans a rollout for residential users in late 2024 or 2025.

Related article: Starlink promises connectivity for all, but priced for some

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