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Mayor Isko Moreno in a meeting with Elon Musk representative in an effort to provide fast and free internet for all Filipinos. (TSJ)

Mayor Isko Moreno meet Elon Musk to provide fast and free internet for all Filipinos

PRESIDENTIAL bet Manila Mayor Isko Moreno yesterday met with representatives of Elon Musk’s SpaceX Enterprise for the acquisition of Starlink’s satellite broadband internet system for the City of Manila.

“I hope we can avail of Starlink low-orbit satellite soonest. The best success story is in Ukraine when Elon Musk deployed a number of satellites in that country after its internet connectivity was destroyed by Russian forces. It’s in the news. Hopefully, may awa ang Diyos, puwede tayong gumamit ng Starlink sa buong bansa pag tayo naging pangulo sa Mayo,” Moreno had said.

According to Moreno, the acquisition of the low-orbit satellite internet system will soon greatly boost the Philippine capital’s capacity to deliver basic social services through fast, reliable and free internet.

“Maraming salamat at binigyan nila ng pagkakataon ang Maynila. Mukhang mag-uumpisa na soon. Hinihintay lang namin yung mga regulatory agencies na i-process yung sa side ng Starlink SpaceX. After that, Manila can deploy about 896 disks for 896 barangays para maging available ito sa 104 public schools, elementary and high school, 2 city colleges, 7 hospitals, 15 police stations, the Manila Police District headquarters, City Hall and other satellite offices of city hall,” he said in an interview after the meeting.

“The next plan is kung nag push through yon, e yung initial acquisition natin is for more than 1,000 plus satellite dish, isusunod naman natin dun sa University Belt, para naman pagdating ng araw, meron silang access to fast, reliable, free internet services,” said Moreno.

The meeting with SpaceX Enterprise was made possible after Moreno was authorized, through City Council Resolution No. 46, “to negotiate and/or enter into a contract with SpaceX Enterprise for the use of Starlink, the world’s most advance broadband internet system in the City of Manila.”

Moreno said the low orbiter satellite system can provide 110 mbps free for residential families, and speeds of up to 500 mbps speed for enterprise subscription.

If elected president, the 47-year-old presidential candidate hopes to acquire the system for the entire country to connect all the islands of the Philippine archipelago and provide internet connectivity even in far-flung areas of the country.

“I hope magawa ito sa buong bansa. Ang gusto natin, makamit ito ng mga ordinaryong tao, na ang bawat tao, magkaroon ng access to reliable, fast internet for them to have an opportunity. Kapag may access sila sa mga ganitong bagay, yung pag-aaral ng bata, madadagdagan ang access niya to information. At kung ito’y magagawa sa ibat-ibang lugar sa Pilipinas, magkakaroon ng komersiyo, hanapbuhay at trabaho,” Moreno explained.

Moreno pointed out that since the pandemic started, many employees from the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector have worked from their homes using their laptop computers. “Maraming di nakakapansin, napakaraming freelancers sa Pilipinas, maraming talented. If they have access to internet, matutulungan natin sila. Maraming job opportunities. If there is a strong internet commection sa lahat ng tao, daan-daang libong freelancers ang matutulungan,” he said.

“Tayo ang may pinakamagaling na seaman sa buong mundo. Pinakamahusay na overseas workers ay Filipino dahil magaling skills nila na in high demand. Those Filipinos who are accessing satellite can talk to their families here. Laking tipid. Just imagine nasa gitna ka ng Atlantic ocean, matatawagan ka ng pamilya mo. Remember gusto kong maging seaman dati. OFW na marino, connected sa pamilya, sa gitna ng dagat, isang buwan puro dagat ang nakikita, pero ako naniniwala ako sa galing ng seaman sa buong mundo,” Moreno said.

Moreno also pointed out that acquiring the Starlink system will also play a crucial role in disaster preparedness and response, especially in times of calamities when all lines of communications are down like what happened when super typhoons Yolanda and Odette struck the country.

“At higit sa lahat, huwag naman loobin ng Diyos, pag panahon ng ng trahedya, meron tayong redundancy via low-orbit satellite. Dahil sa panahon ng trahedya, sa panahon ng sakuna, time is always of the essence. Every single moment, we can save lives. Yun naman yung bigger picture na posibleng maging benepisyo ng ating bansa sa pagkuha ng ganitong services,” said Moreno.

Acquiring Starlink is on top of the national fiber optic backbone that Moreno vowed to build in order to connect our islands and provide stable and reliable interconnectivity that is crucial in accelerating human and economic growth, while enabling the Philippines to catch up with the modern world.

He however admitted that the national fiber optic backbone will take years to develop, thus the need to acquire the system while the fiber optic backbone is being established.

“As I’ve said before, we will connect Tawi-Tawi to Batanes, 7,100 islands, via communication backbone through fiber optics. That will take years to develop. Maganda dito (Starlink) bukod sa fast and reliable internet connectivity, this is also fast in terms of deployment,” Moreno explained.

“Sa akin lang naman, basta kapakinabangan ng tao, across the board, whether agrikultura, edukasyon, kalusugan, trabaho, murang bilihin, huwag ka lang matulog, kailangan matapos natin sa lalong madaling panahon, gagawin natin. Dahil kailangan natin talaga ang mabilis kumilos dahil nasa krisis pa tayo ngayon,” said Moreno.

Moreno was grateful for the early morning meeting with Rebecca Hunter, SpaceX senior manager for government affairs, and Raymond Garcia, SpaceX partner-representative for the Philippines and other Asian countries.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. or SpaceX is an American aerospace manufacturer founded by American billionaire Elon Musk. Currently, it has launched more than 1,700 Starlink satellites in space.

While most satellite internet services today come from single geostationary satellites that orbit the planet at about 35,000km, Starlink is a constellation of multiple satellites that orbit the planet much closer to Earth, at about 550km, and cover the entire globe.

The SpaceX representatives were also scheduled with national government officials in the hope of making the Philippines the first country in the Asean region to avail of Elon Musk’s Starlink low-orbit satellite and Manila as the first city in Southeast Asia to acquire its fast broadband internet service. (Baby Cuevas)


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