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In a recent tweet, Manuel V. Pangilinan, who holds top positions within the MVP Group — which includes PLDT, Smart Communications, and Meralco, among other mega companies in the Philippines — revealed that Cignal will soon offer satellite-internet services on the local market. It is scheduled to launch May 15. Cignal is the country’s largest pay- and satellite-TV provider.
(Update, May 15: You can enjoy satellite broadband internet from Cignal TV. Details of the service here!)
It’s unclear if the said satellite-internet service will be under Red Broadband, which is a joint venture between Meralco-backed Radius Telecoms and Cignal and provides residential fiber-broadband services bundled with the latter’s satellite-TV plans.
Exciting news! Cignal will soon provide Broadband services nationwide with its Broadband over Satellite service. Internet available everywhere. Launching on May 15. Abangan.— Manny V. Pangilinan (@iamMVP) May 6, 2021
Red Broadband introduced its initial fiber offers only last year. The cheapest subscription costs P1,699 (around $36 converted) per month for downloads of up to 20Mbps, while the most expensive residential plan promises speeds up to 100Mbps for P2,999 ($63) monthly. All fiber plans come with access to 66 SD and nine HD TV channels plus access to the Cignal Play Premium streaming service for live TV and local shows and movies on demand.
You might recall that Smart Communications previously tapped Cignal to provide satellite-broadband services in areas without terrestrial wireless coverage using Cignal’s VSAT technology as a backhaul for transmitting signals from a remote site or network to another site.
Smart rival Globe Telecom is currently working with U.S.-based Curvalux, the firm behind the CurvaNet satellite-constellation project, to bring satellite internet to the Philippines. Around the same time, local internet-service provider Converge and SpaceX’s Starlink were both reported to be in talks to explore the possible deployment of satellite internet here.
What’s the difference between satellite broadband and terrestrial-based services? For one, satellite connections don’t rely on submarine, fiber-optic, and copper cables, transmitter towers, roadside cabinets, and other legacy infrastructure
So, what’s the difference between satellite broadband and terrestrial-based services? For one, satellite connections don’t rely on submarine, fiber-optic, and copper cables, transmitter towers, roadside cabinets, and other legacy infrastructure. As you would imagine, traditional broadband requires spending billions on infrastructure alone and could take up an inordinate amount of time to roll out.
Satellite internet should do away with most, if not all, of the challenges posed by setting up terrestrial networks. It has great potential as a niche service in remote areas where broadband access is limited, or not available at all, due to geographical constraints.
On the downside, the limited number of customers satellite-powered services will appeal to could make it costly. To wit, U.S. customers pay $499 (P23,844) for the antenna and router kit and $99 (P4,731) monthly for a Starlink internet subscription offering downloads between 50Mbps and 150Mbps.
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