We can’t count the number of times we’ve almost thrown our gadgets and routers against the wall out of frustration from spotty internet. Our need for faster, stable connection became even more apparent when the pandemic prompted almost everyone to work from home. Goodness knows how many tears of frustration we’ve cried when our snail-paced connections stopped us from finishing a simple task. Thankfully for Manila residents, it looks like they’re about to get cutting-edge technology for internet connectivity.
Mayor Isko Moreno speaks with SpaceX
Last March 17, the Manila city council authorized Manila Mayor Isko Moreno to meet with American billionaire Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX. The meeting is expected to guarantee Manila purchase of SpaceX’s Starlink low-orbit satellites which provides high-speed internet and a reliable broadband internet system even during typhoons.
“Kadalasan nasisira ay ang linya ng komunikasyon gaya ng nangyari sa Visayas and Mindanao na sinalanta ni Odette. Wala nang telepono, wala pang internet. So malaking tulong itong kay Elon Musk dahil may signal ito kahit may bagyo at lindol,” said presidential aspirant Moreno.
How can SpaceX Starlink help?
Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 26, 2022
Moreno cites the war in Ukraine as a good example of the satellite’s power. Musk deployed a number of Starlink low-orbit satellites in areas in Ukraine after Russian forces destroyed their internet connectivity. As a result, Ukrainians could still use the internet despite power outages.
Moreno plans to buy 1,000 Starlink satellites
After two weeks, Moreno announced that they successfully met with representatives of the company. The plan is to buy more than 1,000 Starlink satellites for Manila. Moreno said these low-orbit satellites can provide internet speeds of up to 110 mbps for households and 500 mbps for enterprises. He also said that each satellite dish could cost about $500 each (P26,000). We did the math for you — that’s a P26 million minimum budget.
How do Starlink satellites work?
Traditional satellites today provide internet in a fixed geographical area while orbiting 35,000km from the earth. Starlink satellites orbit the earth at about 550km and are grouped into “constellations.” This allows them to give uninterrupted, reliable connection and cover the entire globe. The shorter distance to Earth speeds up data travel that’s perfect for smooth video conference calls, surfing, streaming, and everything related to the internet.
Who could benefit from this?
Starlink 🛰 team too! Expecting over 4200 Starlink satellites in operation within 18 months, which is ~2/3 of all active satellites of Earth.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 28, 2022
Starlink satellites providing fast and free internet connection sounds like a dream. But it’s possible. Moreno added that he plans to deploy the satellites to 896 barangays, 104 public elementary and high schools, 15 police stations and seven hospitals. This includes Unibersidad de Manila, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, City Hall, and other locations.
If the plan is a success, Moreno also said that the next course of action is to provide free internet via satellite along University Belt too so college students get free, speedy internet connection.
The future of Manila?
Moreno’s work as Manila Mayor speaks volumes about how he’s a forward thinker. Under his administration Manila Zoo was rehabilitated, Ospital ng Maynila had a new 10-story building, the Lagusnilad underpass was rehabilitated congested streets were cleared, and more. There’s no doubt that the 47-year-old gets things done and it looks like he’ll be crossing off “reliable internet technology for Manila” on his list soon.
“This is now the future of Manila, the people of Manila. And this can be the future of our country nang maka-catch up tayo,” says Moreno on the plan to buy 1,000 Starlink satellites. “Naaawa talaga ako sa ibang lugar sa Pilipinas. Hinihika ang internet dun,” he added.
Pacquiao also touches base with SpaceX
Moreno isn’t the only presidential hopeful with a vision for high-tech internet in the country’s capital. Senator Manny Pacquiao had a separate meeting with senior SpaceX executives. According to CNN Philippines, they discussed “how foreign telcos can enter the Philippine internet technology market more easily.”
“I have no doubt that the entry of Space X into the Philippines would be a major game-changer, especially in the IT sector. We would definitely see a major upgrade to our IT infrastructure. There will be no more lags and no place unreachable,” said Pacquiao.
But Pacquiao wants to go beyond reliable internet
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Pacquiao discussed the “possibility of establishing a spaceship launchpad in the Philippines.” He cited Mindanao as a good location saying a launchpad would “would not only put the Philippines on the map of space exploration but would also generate thousands of jobs for Filipino scientists, engineers, and laborers.” Pacquiao also said that having a launchpad will put our country alongside other first-world countries focusing on exploring space.
The boxer-turned-senator likewise brought up possible partnerships with SpaceX’s sister companies Tesla and Boring Company. He hoped that Tesla could provide batteries for jeepney modernization while Boring Company could help create a subway system to help decongest Manila.
What do you think of Mayor Isko Moreno’s plan to give Metro Manila the high-speed internet it deserves?