By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter
THE consortium led by former politician Luis “Chavit” C. Singson’s LCS Group of Companies and TierOne Communications International, Inc. has acquired a stake in a broadband satellite operator, saying this deal will allow it to provide broadband services in the Philippines at a lower cost.
While the consortium did not identify the broadband satellite operator in its statement, a member of the technical team identified it as Kacific Broadband Satellites.
“We initially paid half a million dollars for Kacific,” the source told BusinessWorld.
On its website, Kacific said its first satellite, Kacific-1 is being built at the Boeing Company’s factory in El Segundo, Los Angeles. The company has contracted SpaceX to launch Kacific-1 on a Falcon-9 rocket in 2019.
“Kacific offers right now long-term bandwidth lease agreements to local wholesale customers wanting to secure for its affordable satellite broadband for their home market,” its website read.
In a statement released on Monday, LCS-TierOne said the deal to acquire equity in the satellite operator was signed overseas by TierOne Consortium Chairperson Jonathon Bentley-Stevens and Mr. Singson.
“Our investment in the satellite operator with a footprint capable of delivering broadband across the archipelago, reflects our desire to offer the Highest Committed Level of Service, as mandated by Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC),” Mr. Bentley-Stevens was quoted as saying.
The LCS-TierOne consortium, which is participating in the on-going search for the third telecommunications player, said with the deal it will “be able to provide the entire Philippine archipelago access to satellite-based broadband — at much lower costs.”
Bandwidth from the broadband satellite will be accessed by LCS-TierOne’s portable cell sites called Telcos-In-A-Box that will be distributed to subscribers.
Mr. Bentley-Stevens said these portable cell sites will be offered as “franchises,” with the goal of “democratizing the ownership and delivery of telecommunications services across the country.”
“[W]e have to rely on new technology like broadband satellite for coverage and on our fellow Filipinos for distribution,” Mr. Singson said.
LCS-TierOne also noted it already has an earth station gateway to immediately use the broadband satellite services from the operator. An earth station gateway is a receiving station that helps in facilitating telecommunication through a satellite.
Millawave Systems LLC President Ed Millana, one of the members of the LCS-TierOne consortium, said the new deal with the broadband satellite operator will help the company deliver speeds of up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) with its 1.3 gigabits per second (Gbps) of bandwidth per transponder.
“Once launched, our high throughput broadband satellite will offer instant coverage; think of it as a ready network while we rollout the domestic undersea cable backbone, which we will still be largely reliant on — satellite still cannot be compared to fiber in terms of capacity and latency, but it’s definitely the most expedient way to connect our entire archipelago” Mr. Millana said.
LCS-TierOne consortium said it would start rolling out the high-throughput broadband satellite by next year, which would cover the entire country as early as its first year of operations.
“We will provide connectivity and cover the whole Philippine archipelago within Year 1, even as we build the domestic submarine fiber optic network on which we will be reliant,” the consortium said.
The government plans to name the winning third telco player before Christmas, with the deadline for submission of bids set on Nov. 7.
Aside from the LCS-TierOne consortium, eight other local and foreign companies also bought selection documents and are expected to participate in the bidding.