Philippines Space Agency, OneWeb to test satellite internet service in remote, rural areas

Philippines Space Agency satellite internet service
PhilSA’s INCENTIVISE project aims to help address the demand for Internet connectivity in unserved and underserved areas in the Philippines. PhilSA image.

The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) is working with London-based global communications space network OneWeb to test its satellite internet service in remote and rural areas in the country.

PhilSa announced on February 3, 2022, that it has accepted the proposal of OneWeb to test the capability of satellite Internet services to work in selected areas across the country under the INCENTIVISE project with the aim to help address the demand for Internet connectivity in unserved and underserved areas in the Philippines.

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The partnership also gives PhilSA possible access to the local Internet gateway facilities of the Advanced Science and Technology Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-ASTI).

“Satellite constellation systems can be used to provide broadband Internet connectivity in rural and hard-to-reach areas where terrestrial networks can be uneconomical and logistically difficult to install and maintain. Telecommunications companies may also take advantage of these satellite technologies to provide backhaul connectivity to their networks and complementary coverage in remote locations,” according to the PhilSA INCENTIVISE team.

Through INCENTIVISE, which stands for “Introducing Non-Geostationary Satellite Constellations Test Deployments to Improve Internet Service”, OneWeb is provided an opportunity to test and demonstrate, on a temporary and non-commercial basis, the high throughput and low latency capability of their satellite broadband constellation.

The closer proximity of NGSO satellites to the Earth than those in geostationary orbit results in lower latency, thus supporting more delay-sensitive applications such as video conferencing, which has become an essential tool in the conduct of business, work, and education especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Satellite-based Internet may also be relied upon as a robust and rapidly deployable means of communication in times of disasters when terrestrial communications infrastructure is devastated. INCENTIVISE also takes on a research objective of observing and evaluating actual on-site operational performance and reliability of SIO Internet services, considering local weather conditions.

PhilSA and the London-based satellite Internet company are now “engaged in further detailed discussions on the technical documentary requirements and other logistics of the test deployments, including the timeline and proposed implementation sites,” according to PhilSA Director General Joel Joseph Marciano, Jr.

The PhilSA launched the INCENTIVISE Open Call in October 2021 and invited Non-Geostationary Orbit (NGSO) Satellite Internet Operators (SIOs) to conduct test deployments of their Internet services in the country ahead of possible full commercial service.

Apart from helping to address the digital divide in the country, INCENTIVISE is also envisioned to promote the development of the local space industry.

NGSO SIOs can use the successful demonstration in the INCENTIVISE project as a preliminary step towards full operations. PhilSA also targets the entry of new Internet space segment players to accelerate local know-how transfer and retention in space technologies and related ground-based systems, which is seen to open doors to design, manufacturing, and supply chain opportunities for local companies and space-adjacent industries in the $400 billion global space economy.

The Philippine Space Agency and United Nations are also working on international space cooperation.

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The Good News Pilipinas Team is a group of Filipino journalists who advocate putting more good news stories about the Philippines and Filipinos on the media.