Huge Untapped Market Awaits Starlink: NTC

Competition in home broadband space is expected to intensify further in the second half of the year as demand for more bandwidth continues and around 60% of the market remains untapped.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the Philippines have captured around 40% of the domestic broadband market.

“The 60% (market) is a lot of customers, if you look at 25 million households. They (the ISPs) see between 2 and 4 million subscribers each,” said Edgardo Cabarios, deputy commissioner of the Commission. National Telecommunications Authority (NTC), during a telephone interview.

With this, ISPs aggressively expanded their networks and offered competitive pricing to retain existing subscribers and attract new customers.

Bandwidth demand is increasing every day, the NTC said.

“(Not) just the new market…the existing market wants faster speed, higher capacity, they want more bandwidth,” Cabarios said.

Competition will intensify further with the planned commercial launch of satellite broadband services from billionaire Elon Musk Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) in the country through its Starlink Internet Services Philippines Inc. unit in the fourth quarter of the year.

This will bring additional capacity and provide efficient internet service in mission areas, Cabarios said.

“The entry of Starlink will simply provide the additional capacity… satellite (internet service) is very effective in mission areas. It will provide a cost-effective solution to these areas,” he added.

He pointed out that Starlink should partner with at least two fiber optic broadband providers to ensure the reliability of its internet service in the country.

Starlink can get the best price with the best quality as there are several potential fiber telecom providers in the country such as Sky Broadband, Globe Telecom, PLDT, Converge ICT Solutions, Infinivan, Red fiber among others.

The Philippines is expected to be the first country in Southeast Asia to take advantage of Starlink service which provides a system of low Earth orbit satellites designed to provide broadband internet connectivity with speeds between 100 and 200 megabits per second, especially in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas where laying fiber optic cables is difficult.

Starlink prides itself on offering faster internet speeds than fiber optic cables, as its satellite internet service provides a constellation of multiple satellites that orbit the Earth approximately 550 kilometers away, which also provides global coverage to its users.

The NTC last month approved Starlink’s registration as a value-added service (VAS) provider, paving the way for the company to begin offering internet access services in the Philippines.

Starlink’s VAS registration allows it to directly access satellite systems and build and operate broadband facilities to provide Internet services. NTC’s prompt processing of its registration was intended to expedite the immediate rollout of the service.

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