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"This news article was first featured in The Manila Times"

“Our transformation from Telco to TechCo is underway. With Transcelestial, the next-gen solutions Globe’s building toward has the opportunity to be delivered at the speed of light,” said Escarcha, Globe’s Access Transport Planning Head.

In today’s digital era, internet connectivity is crucial for accessing education, healthcare, business, and government services. Due to geographical challenges, the Philippines faces a significant digital divide, especially in remote areas.

As of February 2023, the Philippines has 85.16 million internet users, representing 73.1% of its population. However, internet access distribution is uneven. While the National Capital Region has an 83% internet penetration rate, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has just 7%.

This disparity highlights the need for equitable internet access for all Filipinos. In response, innovative collaborations and investments in technology solutions have emerged.

The partnership between Globe, the nation’s leading mobile operator, and Transcelestial, a Singapore-based company building wireless laser communications technology holds immense promise in advancing digital connectivity across the Philippines.

This strategic alliance underscores the Ayala Corporation Technology Innovation Venture Fund’s (ACTIVE Fund) dedication to nurturing technological advancements. 

Orchestrated by Kickstart Ventures, the partnership not only reinforces ACTIVE Fund’s commitment to innovation but also reflects its investment ethos. 

It unites an exceptional team with a substantial solution for genuine problems or opportunities, all while fostering a synergistic relationship with Globe, one of its Limited Partners.

Motivated by the ACTIVE Fund’s thesis of A Frictionless Future, the Transcelestial-Globe partnership represents a significant step towards closing the Philippines’ digital divide.

Utilizing Transcelestial’s advanced technology, this impactful collaboration enhances connectivity in remote areas, allowing Globe to extend its reach and positively influence various communities.

Understanding Transcelestial and Globe

Globe has consistently led the charge in enhancing connectivity across the Philippines. This evolution from a traditional telecommunications company to a technology-centric organization underscores their dedication to innovation and addressing practical challenges.

The transition is evident in Globe’s expanded range of services, encompassing fintech, virtual health care, e-commerce, business outsourcing, adtech, edutech, climate tech, and the media and entertainment sectors.

Singapore-based Transcelestial, on the other hand, is set to revolutionize how we connect the next billion people. Its groundbreaking solutions offer a powerful complement to Globe’s existing infrastructure.

Transcelestial uses modulated infrared lasers to transmit high-speed data wirelessly over long distances without fiber. Its laser beams can carry bandwidth-intensive data at fiber-comparable speeds over tens of kilometers, enabling cost-effective connectivity in remote areas.

Transformational partnerships

The partnership between Transcelestial and Globe harmoniously converges their respective objectives.

Globe is dedicated to expanding digital access (4G and 5G), particularly in regions starting with locations in the Visayas and Mindanao, such as Bacolod, Negros Occidental, Panaon Island, Davao City (Samal Island) and Zamboanga. Transcelestial is on a mission to revolutionize connectivity with its cutting-edge technology.

Transcelestial’s innovative technology offers a rapid evolution. Its compact, shoebox-sized Centauri devices, weighing less than 3 kilograms, can be rapidly deployed, making them ideal for challenging locations where traditional infrastructure is impractical.

This is particularly relevant in regions like the Visayas and Mindanao, known for their complex geography. They are characterized by numerous islands, mountains and rural areas that present formidable obstacles to laying down fiber-optic cables and erecting conventional cell towers for internet connectivity.

In the denser parts of these islands, specifically within cities and towns, obtaining the right of way — which involves securing legal permission to install infrastructure on private land — becomes increasingly complex. Additionally, in these areas, overhead fiber cables are susceptible to typhoon damage, further complicating the situation and posing safety risks.

Transcelestial technology, exemplified by the Centauri device, operates on the principle of wireless optical transmission. It utilizes a narrow optical beam with a unique pointing, tracking and acquisition system capable of transmitting data at up to 10 Gbps for multiple kilometers.

This laser-based approach eliminates the need for complex physical infrastructure, such as microwave antennas and fiber-optic cables, offering a cost-effective, super-high bandwidth and swift installation solution, even in challenging environments.

The Centauri, equipped with Transcelestial’s proprietary pointing, tracking and acquisition system, and software-defined sensors and algorithms, allows connectivity to be reliable in adverse weather conditions, which is crucial for mobile operators to maintain high service reliability.

“From day one, working alongside Globe has been a journey of shared vision and mutual dedication. Our collaboration is deeply rooted in a commitment to transform the digital landscape of the Philippines, ensuring equitable access to information and opportunities across the archipelago,” remarked Dinesh Kummaran, head of Sales Asia Transcelestial.

“Together, we are currently working to significantly expand our business footprint, aiming to amplify our project scale by more than tenfold from our current capacity. By combining Globe’s extensive network with our cutting-edge laser communication technology, we are setting new benchmarks for what’s possible, bringing us closer to a future where every Filipino has the world within their reach. It’s been an honor to be part of this revolutionary journey from the very beginning, and I am inspired by the passion and commitment of both teams as we work towards achieving a truly connected Philippines.”

Perfect synergy, perfect timing

The decision to partner with Transcelestial was not arbitrary; it was a strategic choice based on clear criteria. The partnership had to deliver direct impact, scalability and resource alignment.

Globe recognized that Transcelestial’s technology met these criteria perfectly and supported investments from Kickstart right from the earliest interactions. By choosing the right partner at the right time, Globe has positioned itself to make a lasting impact on bridging the digital divide.

“We want to ensure that Globe is at the forefront of giving Filipinos the necessary internet connectivity, from the densest metros to hard-to-reach forests, islands and mountains,” said Je Escarcha, Globe’s Access Transport Planning head.

Kickstart Ventures played a pivotal role in identifying and nurturing this collaboration. Its commitment to strategic and impactful investments has paved the way for groundbreaking initiatives like the Transcelestial-Globe partnership.

Key stakeholders express enthusiasm about the partnership, highlighting its significance in the wider digital transformation journey of the Philippines.

Toward a digitally empowered future

Internet connectivity has evolved from a luxury to a fundamental need today. Partnerships like the one between Globe and Transcelestial are essential in meeting this need and creating a frictionless future.

Kickstart Ventures, Transcelestial and Globe leaders all share a vision for a more connected and digitally inclusive Philippines.

As we look ahead, the role of strategic partnerships in bridging digital divides and fostering a technologically advanced society cannot be overstated.

This collaboration serves as a beacon of hope, illuminating the path toward a future where all Filipinos can harness the benefits of the digital age.

A vision for the future

Globe is poised to significantly expand its impact, aiming to enhance its broadband market presence alongside mobile coverage.

With data usage growing, Transcelestial’s scalable laser technology could allow for higher bandwidths, fostering a digitally inclusive future in the Philippines.

“This partnership with Transcelestial is a prime example of how innovation and teamwork can drive societal change. By confronting the digital divide, we’re improving internet access, enabling educational and economic growth, and promoting digital empowerment. We remain excited to run full speed with Transcelestial on this transformation and are wildly excited by some of the amazing possibilities they are pulling together next with their 25 Gbps and emerging capabilities in space,” added Escarcha.

This collaboration powerfully showcases technology’s ability to surmount geographical barriers, fostering a more connected, inclusive Philippine society. It highlights advanced technology and joint efforts in driving digital transformation and inclusion in the Philippines and worldwide.

By embracing such technology and fostering partnerships, businesses, and innovators can actively participate in shaping a digitally inclusive future. Together, they can pave the way for a brighter, more connected future for all Filipinos.

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