Manila, 30 March 2022 - A team led by Atty. Bienvenido A. Marquez III, Head of Quisumbing Torres’ (QT) IP Data and Technology Practice Group, successfully assisted Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) in obtaining approval for its Starlink Satellite Internet Services in the Philippines.
SpaceX intends to offer its services through its newly registered local entity, Starlink Internet Services Philippines, Inc. (Starlink PH). QT assisted Starlink PH in being accredited as a Satellite Systems Provider and/or Operator (SSPO) by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). The Certificate of Accreditation was released last 26 May 2022, making Starlink the first SSPO-accredited entity in the Philippines.
On 27 May 2022, again with QT’s assistance, Starlink’s application for registration as a Value-Added Service (VAS) Provider was approved by the National Telecommunications Commission ("NTC"). The regulatory approval was given in record time: 30 minutes following the submission of the DICT Accreditation Certificate and complete requirements.SpaceX founder Elon Musk shared news of the approval through a tweet posted on Twitter.
Executive Order No. 127, which was issued by outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte last March 2021, allows Starlink PH to register as an SSPO to get bandwidth from its own satellites, and as a VAS provider which could sell internet services directly to end users, without the need of a congressional franchise. Further, under the recently approved Public Service Act amendment (R.A. No. 11659), both telcos and VAS providers are no longer subject to the 60-40 nationality requirement. This allows Starlink PH to be a 100% foreign-owned company.
The DICT showed great enthusiasm and flexibility in accrediting Starlink PH as an SSPO despite the pendency of its SSPO implementing rules and guidelines. The NTC should likewise be commended for its prompt action on Starlink PH’s VAS application. According to Atty. Bien Marquez, “This shows the government’s seriousness in addressing the connectivity needs of our country in unserved and underserved areas. This will also prepare us in the event of natural disasters and calamities.”
The Philippines is the first country in Asia to approve Starlink.