Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) proposed project in the country is expected to be finalized in the remaining three months or before President Duterte steps down from office, making the Philippines the first country in Southeast Asia to host the fast broadband facility via satellite, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez announced.
Lopez made the announcement after meeting on Wednesday, March 31, with Spacex senior executives Rebecca Hunter and Ryan Goodnight, National Telecommunications Commission Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios and DFNN Executive Chairman Ramon Garcia Jr..
According to Lopez, the Board of Investments (BOI) is assisting SpaceX application while locations of their gateways, which will be in major and suburbs areas, are also being visited to ensure the project will materialize within the last three months of the Duterte administration. Lopez said the company is still finalizing the investment figures.
The BOI is assisting the company’s registration under the Strategic Investment Priorities Plan (SIPP) and in the processing of permits for their business to ensure ease doing business, Lopez said. Projects under SIPP are entitled to a package of juicy tax and fiscal incentives.
The planned establishment of SpaceX, which will provide internet services in the Philippines using its Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite network constellation called Starlink. The constellation consists of over 1,600 satellites in mid-2021, and will eventually comprise of thousands more of mass-produced small satellites in LEO, which communicate with designated ground transceivers.
The launch of Spacex/Starlink in the country will enable a much faster broadband speed, better connectivity, more capacity for telecommunications services and more affordable rates for consumers. “Their system will augment as well as complement existing broadband capacities. This will further capacitate micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), facilitate online learning, e-commerce and fintech,” said Lopez.
The project followed after a series of meetings with the Musk company that started during a US Investment Mission in November 2021 yet. He said the DTI-BOI and SpaceX intently discussed the project’s entry timeline and the Duterte Administration’s priority legislative reforms.
The passage of the amended Philippine Service Act (PSA), which allows full foreign ownership in public services, was also instrumental in the company’s decision to invest in the Philippines. According to Lopez, a series of online meetings with the company immediately followed after the Senate ratification of the PSA in December last year. They also held an update session in February 2022, and another in early March this year to discuss further SpaceX’s business plans in the Philippines.
During the recent meeting, Lopez said that SpaceX was bullish on the growing consumer base and much-improved investment climate in the country with the current major economic reforms. “They noted that the signing of the amended PSA, which allows up to 100 percent foreign ownership of public services in the country, was a critical factor in the company’s decision to invest, as all its technologies are proprietary,” said Lopez.
SpaceX is a relatively young but fast-growing technology and aerospace company owned by the highly celebrated entrepreneur Elon Musk. The company is currently establishing a local Filipino entity that will be their wholly-owned subsidiary and is targeting to deploy three gateways in the first phase of their launch. The Philippines is set to be the first in Southeast Asia to avail of such technology that will bring high-speed satellite broadband connectivity to customers, particularly to areas where connectivity has been difficult or impossible.
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