Converge CEO backtracks on Starlink, says PH needs to be careful on SpaceX entry

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 08 2022 03:01 PM

MANILA - Converge ICT Solutions Inc founder and CEO Dennis Anthony Uy said the Philippines should be careful about allowing the entry of Elon Musk's SpaceX and its low-obit satellite technology called Starlink.

Despite the current easing in foreign restrictions on telco ownership, regulations should be followed to ensure that the state's frequencies are handled properly, Uy said during a forum organized by the Makati Business Club. 

The amended Public Service Act, which was signed into law by former President Rodrigo Duterte, has allowed 100 percent foreign ownership in select sectors such as telcos and airports. 

Uy in 2021 said Converge was in talks with SpaceX for potential collaboration in terms of satellite broadband technology. 

When asked about the update on the discussions, Uy said Starlink should get a Congressional franchise.

"To those who understand this field, I’m personally against it because you’re using the frequency of Filipino, the frequency belongs to the state and that should be properly handled... So we need to be careful," Uy said. 

Starlink earlier announced its entry in the Philippines, the first country in Asia to avail of the technology aside from Japan. Former Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the government has assisted the US-based firm in securing the necessary permits to set up shop here. 

Starlink's entry was approved by the Department of Communication and Information Technology and regulators such as the National Telecommunications Commission. [APPROVED https://news.abs-cbn.com/business/05/27/22/ntc-approves-elon-musks-starlink-registration-in-ph]

Uy asserted that fiber is still better than satellite internet, which is more expensive. Low-earth orbit satellite technology, which is meant to deliver connectivity to far-flung areas, can complement existing connectivity, he added.

"Actually this technology is new. In fact, we have some collaboration in terms of infrastructure. I’m so happy, because in this country, especially since we have many islands, we need these kind of services. But the important thing here is regulations should be followed," he said. 

Starlink earlier announced its entry in the Philippines, the first country in Asia to avail of the technology aside from Japan. Former Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the government has assisted the US-based firm in securing the necessary permits to set up shop here. 

It said it can offer broadband internet for speeds of up to 200 Mbps.

But in order to use the Starlink service, consumers need to purchase the modem set with the disk, which costs $599 (P33,347) and pay a monthly subscription fee of $100 (P5,567). 

Uy said in terms of business, there is no conflict between Starlink and Converge. He said Converge is now present in over 900 cities and municipalities with the goal of reaching all key areas by 2025. 

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