Duterte signs order expanding satellite access for ISPs, app and service operators

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 11 2021 08:47 PM

Duterte signs order expanding satellite access for ISPs, app and service operators 1
This long-exposure image shows a trail of a group of SpaceX's Starlink satellites passing over Uruguay as seen from the countryside some 185 km north of Montevideo near Capilla del Sauce, Florida Department, on February 7, 2021. Mariana Suarez, AFP

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has issued an executive order expanding the access of internet service providers and value-added service providers to satellite systems. 

Executive Order No. 127, issued Thursday, expands the access of telecommunication entities such as ISPs and operators of apps and web-based services registered with the National Telecommunications Commission to all satellite systems to improve the quality of their services. 

This amends sections of Executive Order No. 467 which set policies on the use of international satellite telecommunications facilities and services in the country. 

The order allows internet and value service providers "direct access" to all satellite systems to build and operate broadband facilities that offer Internet services. 

The order follows a recent statement from Globe Telecom that it was planning to use satellites to provide internet connectivity to areas that were difficult to reach via conventional fixed and wireless broadband. 

The measure also follows reports several weeks ago that Converge ICT was in talks with centi-billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX to use its Starlink satellite system. Converge has since said played down the reports and said it was premature to talk of a deal with SpaceX.

According to Business Insider, SpaceX's Starlink now has over 1,000 working satellites in orbit and targets to have 42,000 satellites by mid-2027. 

Direct access is described in the measure as "dealings between authorized entities and satellite system providers at specified levels as defined by the NTC.”

"Universal access to fast and reliable Internet services is vital in order for the country to join the ranks of developed economies due to the internet's transformative impact on e-government and the delivery of basic services, the elimination of red tape, freedom of information, disaster preparedness, public safety, readiness for climate change, education for all, and inclusive growth,” the EO read. 

Broadcast service providers were also given the green light to directly access satellite systems, provided they follow guidelines set by NTC. 

The NTC, in turn, will update its regulations to make administrative processes faster. 

The Philippines in January moved up 10 notches in mobile Internet speed rankings, according to Ookla’s 2021 Speedtest Global Index. 

The country is ranked 100 when it comes to average fixed broadband download speeds, reaching 32.73 Mbps in January from 31.44 Mbps in December. 

-- With reports from Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News