In November 2023, Astranis revealed plans for a second broadband satellite in the Philippines, building on the initial order announced in July. This expansion doubles the satellite connectivity reach and is set to connect over 4 million people, twice the initial estimate of 2 million. This ABI Insight provides an overview of the satellite Internet connectivity developments in the Philippines and the future business prospects of the Southeast Asian satellite Internet market.
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The Philippines and Astranis: Joining Hands to Connect the Unconnected
In November 2023, Astranis revealed plans to construct a second dedicated broadband satellite for the Philippines, expanding on the initial order announced in July. This development is expected to double the connectivity capacity for Orbits Corp, a Filipino satellite service provider and an Astranis partner, to 4 million people—twice the previous estimate of 2 million. Established in 2015, San Francisco-based Astranis offers satellite-based Internet solutions with its MicroGEO satellites (weighing around 400 Kilograms (kg)). With a commitment to bridging the digital divide, Astranis targets unserved and underserved regions with the goal of improving access to resources like education, healthcare, and economic opportunities.
Connecting the Unconnected: Digital Connectivity Initiatives in the Philippines
In the Philippines, characterized by an archipelagic landscape with over 7,000 islands, satellite Internet is particularly valuable for several compelling reasons. Its extensive coverage capabilities for addressing geographic diversity, ability to connect the remote and rural areas with limited terrestrial infrastructure, and serving as a reliable backup for emergencies and network disruptions make it a valuable tool for digital connectivity. (For more detail, refer to ABI Research's Connecting the Unconnected: Utilizing SatCom to Close the Digital Divide report (AN-5864).)
Given those compelling reasons, satellite Internet has been gaining popularity in the Philippines with numerous providers such as Kacific, Starlink, and Astranis setting up shop in the country. In October 2022, Data Lake partnered with SpaceX's Starlink, marking Starlink's first Southeast Asian collaboration. Starlink's service costs around US$99 or about ₱5,535 monthly. OneWeb and NOW Corporation, a Filipino conglomerate firm with businesses in Telecommunications, Media, and Technology (TMT), have also inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to deliver broadband connectivity to the Philippines in May 2023. The Philippine government’s commitment to improving digital connectivity, as demonstrated through the National Broadband Plan, also aligns well with the progress and momentum in satellite Internet developments. This alignment is expected to spur innovation, investment, and increased digital inclusivity for the Filipinos. The Philippines’ Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) covers expenses to connect residents in remote areas to Starlink, aiming to reduce the digital divide and ensure fair Internet access in the Philippines. In October 2023, the DICT also announced the successful installation of satellite broadband in 438 remote areas as a key milestone in the National Broadband Plan.
The Market Horizons for Satellite Internet Broadband in Southeast Asia
Starlink (IN-6998) has been pivotal in expanding satellite Internet across Southeast Asia. Starlink partners with governments, extending services to remote areas in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Even in digitally advanced Singapore, interest in satellite Internet, especially with Starlink, is growing for offshore facilities. Singapore-based Kacific also plays a key role in bridging the digital divide in the Southeast Asian region with connectivity efforts in the Philippines and Indonesia. In Malaysia, MEASAT provides rural connectivity, while Thaicom also delivers satellite broadband to underserved areas in Thailand. Together, these providers contribute significantly to enhancing connectivity across the region.
ABI Research anticipates robust growth in the Satellite Communication (SatCom) market in Southeast Asia, projecting a 20% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) between 2023 and 2028, resulting in over 1.8 million subscribers by 2028. The market is expected to be valued at over US$2.1 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 21%. The markets of the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia are forecast to dominate SatCom subscriptions in the Southeast Asia region.
ABI Research has three recommendations for the government/regulators in Southeast Asia looking to adopt the SatCom technology as an enabling technology to bridge the digital divide:
- Regulatory Support: Governments can play a pivotal role in leveraging satellite Internet technology to bridge the digital divide by creating an enabling regulatory environment for adopting satellite Internet services. This includes streamlining licensing procedures, spectrum allocation, and regulatory approvals to facilitate deploying and operating satellite networks.
- Public-Private Partnerships: Governments can collaborate with satellite operators and technology companies to leverage their expertise, resources, and funding to accelerate satellite Internet deployments in the underserved and unserved areas.
- Financial Incentives: Governments can provide financial incentives, such as subsidies, grants, or tax breaks, to encourage satellite operators to invest in infrastructure and provide affordable services to remote and underserved regions, and to the economically disadvantaged.