Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III underscored the urgency of improving broadband connectivity in the Philippines during an online meeting with the representative of Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) last Dec. 28.
The meeting, attended by Pimentel and his legislative staff, was part of SpaceX’s initiative to discuss the Starlink satellite broadband project and its potential system coverage of the Philippines by the third quarter of 2021.
“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippines will immensely benefit from Starlink’s high-speed and low-latency Internet which can make possible effective contact tracing and quarantine monitoring, improved and accessible government services, enhanced security, online education and remote learning, emergency and disaster preparedness,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, noted that SpaceX, through its Vice President for Satellite Government Affairs Patricia Cooper, assured his team that Starlink would be a valuable added platform to connect many Philippine communities, businesses, and consumers with high-speed, reliable broadband, and that the Philippines would hopefully be covered by its system in the third quarter of 2021.
“This initiatory engagement with SpaceX is both timely and encouraging. The pandemic has taught us that ‘connectivity is life.’ This is why I believe coverage by the Starlink is very important for the Philippines given that we are a nation of more than 7,600 islands with a substantial number of its citizens living and working outside of the country. Our citizens want and need to be in touch with one another through efficient and affordable means,” he said.
During the meeting, constitutional and other legal requirements in terms of protection and the ability of the Philippine government to engage with SpaceX were also discussed.