SPACE Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) led by billionaire Elon Musk is eyeing to launch the first gateway for its satellites in the Philippines before the term of President Rodrigo R. Duterte ends in June, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
“SpaceX is setting up a business entity that will provide internet service through low earth orbit (LEO) satellites and is targeting to launch the first gateway for their satellites before the end of the term of President Duterte,” the DTI said in a statement on Sunday.
The gateway, or a ground station, is the facility that supplies the internet service as it connects to the LEO satellite internet constellation, called Starlink, which is operated by SpaceX.
SpaceX Government Affairs Senior Manager Rebecca Hunter said during a meeting with the DTI on April 20 that the company had started the process of registering and securing permits from relevant government agencies.
According to the DTI, the planned entry of SpaceX into the country was accelerated following the passage of amendments to the Public Service Act (PSA).
Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the law paved the way for SpaceX’s registration as a 100% foreign-owned business.
Under the amended PSA, the restrictions on full foreign ownership of businesses in key sectors such as telecommunications, shipping, airlines, railways, and subways were eased.
Previously, these sectors were covered by the 40% foreign equity ownership cap implemented by the 1987 Constitution.
Recently, the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan announced that SpaceX might establish its base of operations for Starlink in the province after a series of meetings with company officials.
In March, the DTI said it was eyeing to finish the entry of SpaceX in the country “as soon as possible,” adding that the Philippines will be the first location of the company in Southeast Asia.
The company first met with Philippine government officials in April 2021 to discuss investment plans.
Since then, SpaceX has been closely coordinating with the Board of Investments, Philippine Trade and Investment Center in New York, and other related government agencies for the necessary permits and certificates. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave