Poe bullish on entry of Elon Musk’s internet service in PH

Published February 3, 2021, 5:37 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Grace Poe said the entry of Elon Musk’s Starlink as a new player in the Philippines’ telecommunications industry could “vastly” improve internet access in the country.

Senator Grace Poe (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“It’s an exciting possibility. They are offering satellite technology for connectivity,” said Poe, chairperson of the Senate public services committee, in a statement.

Starlink, an internet satellite project Musk’s SpaceX, aims to put 12,000 satellites into low Earth orbit to  provide high-speed, low-latency, cheap internet access to anyone who has the proprietary Starlink receiver. The project has been lauded by the tech community as a “game changer”.

There have been talks of the broadband project’s potential system coverage of the Philippines by the third quarter of 2021.

While acknowledging that the initial cost of SpaceX may be more expensive than existing market rates, Poe said that it would become more affordable over time.

“The cost at this point is quite prohibitive for the regular subscriber. It’s about $500 just to set this up, or about P25,000. Having said that, that’s not necessarily a bad thing because there’s probably a niche market that will be able to afford this technology. And we are also looking forward that, in the future, with more subscribers, the cost will go down,” she said.

“Bababa rin kapag marami nang subscribers (The cost will go down if there are more subscribers),” she said.

Poe, meanwhile, reiterated her call for the passage of the Senate Bill No. 1831, or the proposed “Better Internet” law, which seeks to mandate telcos and internet service providers to consistently provide the quality of services that they are advertising.

The bill proposes a penalty of P2 million for non-compliance, from the current P200.

“The current penalties are too low. So, it will not be a prevention from other telco companies to keep violating. It won’t prevent them, it won’t discourage them from violating,” she said.