Fiber broadband provider Converge ICT will make a formal announcement on Monday, Feb. 15, on the reported deal it has struck to become the local partner of SpaceX for its ambitious Starlink satellite broadband project.
Formally launched in October last year, Starlink is a satellite Internet constellation being constructed by SpaceX providing satellite Internet access. The constellation will consist of thousands of mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit, working in combination with ground transceivers.
SpaceX is led by Elon Musk, the world’s richest person with an estimated worth of $197 billion. Converge ICT, on the other hand, is controlled by Pampanga-based tycoon Dennis Anthony Uy.
A spokesperson for Converge ICT said the company will issue a statement on the reported partnership. She neither confirmed nor denied the story first reported by local website Bilyonaryo.com.ph.
According to the online report, the two companies are already in the advanced stages of negotiations brokered by no less than the United States embassy. It can be recalled that it was also the US embassy which facilitated the $250-million (P12.8-billion) funding that American investment firm Warburg Pincus LLC infused in Converge ICT in September last year.
If consummated, the pact would provide a windfall for Converge ICT as the company would take a majority 60-percent share in the partnership as mandated by the Philippine Constitution.
In early January, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III revealed that he met online with the representative of SpaceX to discuss the possible inclusion of the Philippines in the Starlink initiative by the third quarter of this year.
Online reports have indicated that Starlink, which is now on beta phase, will deliver Internet speed at around 50 to150 Mbps. Pre-order for the starter kit (composed of dish, Wi-Fi router, power supply, cables, and mounting tripod) is also now available for $499. The monthly fee reportedly starts at $99.
Converge ICT has risen to become a major industry player as of late, raising P29.1 billion from its initial public offering (IPO) during the height of the pandemic in October last year.
It has also more than doubled its fiber network to over 55,000 kilometers at end-2020 from the previous year, expanding its fiber network by 107% from about 26,600 kilometers laid down at the end of 2019.
With this fiber infrastructure, Converge said it has made available nearly 2.7 million FTTH ports for broadband customers nationwide. As of end-December 2020, Converge residential subscribers reached over one million, nearly double from around 529,000 the previous year.
“We are well on track to meeting our goal of reaching over 15 million or 55% of Philippine households by 2025 and ready to serve the high-speed broadband requirements of the majority of our people,” Uy said in a statement.
As of December 2020, Converge recorded 6.1 million homes passed, accounting for 25% of total households in the country.