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DTI: Preparations underway for SpaceX’s entry into Philippines

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Thursday that "preparations are underway" to facilitate the entry into the Philippines of Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) to provide internet services in the country.

In a statement, the DTI said the Philippines is set to be the first country in Southeast Asia to avail of SpaceX’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite network constellation called Starlink.

“The constellation consists of over 1,600 satellites in mid-2021, and will eventually comprise thousands more of mass-produced small satellites in LEO, which communicate with designated ground transceivers,” it said.

Such technology will bring high-speed satellite broadband connectivity to customers, particularly in areas where connectivity has been difficult or impossible, the department said.

The DTI said "preparations are underway for their registration," as discussed at the recent meeting among Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, SpaceX senior executives Rebecca Hunter and Ryan Goodnight, as well as National Telecommunications Commission Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios and DFNN executive chairman Ramon Garcia Jr.

“At present, their application is being processed and the locations of their gateways are being visited,” the agency said.

In February last year, DFNN Inc. confirmed statements made by its chairman that a meeting was made where SoftBank Corp.'s Masayoshi Son and Japan's KDDI have expressed interest in coming to the Philippines with the possibility of doing so as a major investor.

The DTI said the “company is currently establishing a local Filipino entity that will be their wholly-owned subsidiary and is targeting to deploy three gateways in the first phase of their launch.”

Lopez committed assistance to the planned establishment of SpaceX in the country.

He said the launch of SpaceX/Starlink in the country will enable a much faster broadband speed, better connectivity, more capacity for telecommunications services and more affordable rates for consumers.

“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,” he added.

The DTI said SpaceX was bullish on the growing consumer base and much-improved investment climate in the country with the current major economic reforms.

“They noted that the signing of the amended Public Service Act (PSA), which allows up to 100% foreign ownership of public services in the country, was a critical factor in the company’s decision to invest, as all its technologies are proprietary,” it said.

In a US Investment Mission in November 2021, the DTI-Board of Investments and SpaceX intently discussed the project’s entry timeline and the administration’s priority legislative reforms.

"This was followed by a series of online meetings with the company, immediately after the Senate ratification in December last year, an update session in February 2022, and another in early March to discuss further its business plans in the Philippines in line with the amendment to the PSA," the DTI said. — VBL, GMA News