Friday, September 22, 2023

Starlink will be part of govt’s free WiFi program, says DICT chief

Starlink, the satellite-based Internet service of SpaceX, will become part of the mix of broadband sources that the government will tap to deliver the free WiFi program to the public.

The Starlink dish (above photo) and router included in the enterprise package

This is according to Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) secretary Ivan Uy who said that Starlink will be “pre-deployed” in GIDAs (geographically-isolated and disadvantaged areas) around the country.

Uy made the disclosure during the recently concluded 3rd Asean Digital Ministers Meeting in Boracay, Aklan where SpaceX’s sole local reseller, Data Lake, was one of the event exhibitors.

The DICT has pulled out all the stops to bring Starlink in the Philippines, which is the first country in Southeast Asia to offer the satellite broadband service. 

Data Lake, owned by SM heir Henry Sy Jr., has started to offer the enterprise package for subscribers who are willing to shell out P206,000 for the starter kit composed of a satellite dish and router with a starting P28,000 monthly fee.

A shortage of chips needed to manufacture the satellite dish has pushed the company to delay the rollout of Starlink for residential subscribers to late 2004 or early 2005.

The satellite broadband service promises to give its users Internet speeds of up to 900 Mbps, although the average speed would likely range from 200 Mbps to 500 Mbps.

DICT’s Uy said Starlink will only be used in remote areas and not in highly developed urban communities where fiber broadband makes more sense to use.

The government’s free public WiFi program is a multi-billion initiative backed by a law passed by Congress, which has since allocated approximately P12 billion for the project.

Meanwhile, Uy also announced during the Asean meeting that the DICT will now come in and fund the revival of “Geeks On A Beach” to reactivate the local startup sector and emphasize Internet connectivity in islands outside of the country’s major cities.

The annual startup conference, which stopped running during the pandemic because of lack of sponsors, will be held in Panglao Island in Bohol in November this year.


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