The Manila Times


THE Marcos administration plans to improve the internet connection in Visayas and Mindanao with the help of mega-billionaire Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite communications network. Information and Communications Secretary Ivan John Uy on Monday said Starlink is ideal for such an upgrade because it uses low-orbit satellites. “The scope of coverage is far greater and can reach areas that can’t be reached or are hard to reach,” Uy said in a press briefing. He said telecommunications companies or telcos usually find it hard to set up in “missionary routes” or areas that have few users. A network of low-orbit satellites like Starlink’s is ideal for such a venture, he said. Starlink already provides satellite internet access coverage to 33 countries. “So far, the coverages are [in] the northern part of the Philippines and not much in the southern part where we badly need satellite connectivity. That is why a new satellite might be launched that would cover central Philippines,” Uy said. He did not say if the project will be handled by the government or a private firm, but that it is targeted to be done by the end of the year. Uy said that right now he is reviewing the projects of the agency since there are numerous problems that need to be dealt with first. Among them is the strengthening or reviving of the free public WiFi. “We are studying it; we have to sit down and work on it. There are many and different issues that need to be resolved first,” he said. The free WiFi project has been saddled with problems, including the nonpayment to the subscriptions for connectivity, and hardware and contractor issues. Uy vowed that the DICT “will continue to make the free public WiFi more effective.”