As we wait for DITO telecommunity to make its operations official as the country’s third telco, Converge is rumored to sign a partnership with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to beef up its internet infrastructure.
The said report was revealed by Bilyonaryo, where Musk’s SpaceX and Converge–which is owned by Dennis Anthony Uy are in advanced talks to form a 60-40 partnership to provide Filipinos with an alternative, satellite-based broadband internet service.
This report was further confirmed by Inquirer today, and the partnership could make sense after all. A few days back, Sen. Koko Pimentel revealed that he had a videoconferencing meeting SpaceX vice president for satellite government affairs Patricia Cooper, and that Starlink has plans to roll out its broadband services in the Philippines by third quarter of this year. In order to make that happen, Musk’s Starlink must partner with a local company to comply with the country’s rather archaic rule on foreign ownership. Current rules on foreign partnership include that a company must be owned at least 60% by Filipinos.
In addition, Sen. Grace Poe said that while SpaceX’s broadband services are promising, they are expensive. Poe mentioned that it will cost $500(~Php 24.1k) to set it up, which is out of reach for most Filipinos even if Starlink promises to deliver speeds between 50mbps and 150mbps.
With Converge partnering with SpaceX, there’s a good chance that the former might be able to lower the costs for satellite internet–on top of seeing it as a complement to its current internet business. After all, Musk emphasized that Starlink will not compete against existing ISPs since its main goal is to provide internet access to rural and hard-to-reach areas.
Recently, Converge doubled its fiber network coverage to about 55000 kilometers, and it plans to target 55% of an estimated 27.5 million households in the country by 2025 through a combination of broader coverage and new markets.