Starlink promises connectivity for all, but priced for some

Starlink SpaceX
Image by Thomas Dutour | Bigstockphoto

SpaceX and its low-orbit satellite technology, Starlink, will soon be available in the Philippines, but consumers need to purchase the router kit and pay the hefty monthly subscription fee to use the service.

In a press briefing, SpaceX and Starlink representative Rebecca Hubert said that the router kit costs $599 (P33,334.65, $1 = P55.65) while the monthly subscription fee costs $99 (P5,509.40).

Is Starlink really affordable internet?

This disappointed many Filipinos hoping that Starlink would provide them with an affordable internet connection. After all, Starlink entered the country with the promise of making broadband internet accessible to those who have no access or minimal options.

“It’s too expensive, bro. It can be subsidized by the local government. What will the farmers and rural dwellers pay for that even if it’s direly needed to educate, empower and develop them?

Even better is the relay from a cable-based provider to far-flung areas or missionary areas, using tower arrays,” one Ba Nat Trebor said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Department of Information and Communications (DICT) Secretary Ivan John Uy said that in rural areas, the government plans to shoulder the installation of the technology. Furthermore, he said that the service can be shared in the community and does not need to be restricted to individual homes.

Portable technology

Uy said that Starlink is a “portable technology” that can be placed on rooftops as long as there is a clear sky. “Once you set it up, this dish searches the sky for the strongest signal for the satellite. We have several dozen satellites over the Philippines at any given time,” he added.

Currently, PLDT offers a monthly subscription of $30/month (P1,699.00) for 100Mbps while Globe says their subscribers can enjoy speeds of up to 150Mbps at the same cost.

In May of this year, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) approved the registration of Starlink Internet Services Philippines as a value-added service (VAS) provider. The NTC approval was granted 30 minutes after Starlink submitted their application, to which the company responded with gratitude.

Bien Marquez, counsel, SpaceX, said that the expedited approval from the NTC showed the government’s “seriousness in addressing the connectivity needs of our countrymen in unserved and underserved areas.”

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