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Satellite firm SES launches O3b mPOWER to expand footprint in PH

SES, a satellite telecommunications provider with headquarters in Luxembourg, will be utilizing its O3b mPOWER system to extend the reach of internet connectivity in the Philippines. Already in the works, company executives said the satellite will be launched in the third quarter and will be operational by 2023.

With the objective of expanding digital inclusion in the country — by connecting the unconnected — SES Satellite’s O3b mPOWER carries terabit-level system capacity. This also promises to route customer traffic anywhere, even in remote areas or in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas of the archipelago, or in places where network providers cannot reach.

SES’s second-generation medium earth orbit (MEO) constellation will operate 8,000km away from the Earth’s surface. O3b mPOWER promises “fiber-like speeds” that will enable the delivery of cloud computing applications and services to power digital inclusion, while connecting communities and industries regardless of the remoteness of their location.

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“The digital divide needs to be bridged because it needs in the productivity improvement,” said Jose del Rosario, research director of Northern Sky Research. “Efficiency by a cloud computing enterprise, in banking, education, medicine, and even government has been on the rise. What the pandemic has done is that it enabled us to reach a level of usage that goes beyond 2019 (pre-pandemic) levels and that’s not going to go back to that levels.”


Citing data from social media platform HootSuite, Del Rosario said Internet users in the Philippines stand at 79 million, which is the second-highest in Southeast Asia, following only Indonesia with 171.2 million users. Internet penetration in the Philippines is at 72.1%.

“It is in our best interest to bring everybody to 5G with the highest points where most of the bandwidth is available,” said Rob Marabut, director for Business Development Networks, SES. “We also want to do that in rural communities in a cost-effective manner.”

Marabut said the O3b mPOWER can deliver 1Gbps in any location which means it has the capacity to support any type of broadband service whether it is 4G or 5G. He also said that apart from the advantages in latency and throughput, SES’s O3b mPOWER offers 99.5% service-level agreement (SLA).

“This SLA gives us a key advantage in providing service in the country,” Marabut said.

Elon Musk’s Starlink, a satellite-based internet service provider operated by SpaceX, has been given the green light to operate in the Philippines but issues on pricing and accessibility are still in contention on whether it would change the internet landscape in the country.