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Kacific Satellite Internet: Bringing broadband to the boondocks

Last year, I decided to put up a much bigger farm in Bamban, Tarlac and envisioned for it to be an orchard, rare plant nursery and a collection of domesticated farm animals. This is my second location, the first one being in Gapan, Nueva Ecija where I started back in 2018 and raised over a hundred heads on the hog farm.

In both instances, my biggest concern was internet connectivity. It was a nice escape at first not having cellular signal nor internet connection but the fact that my main industry is in tech media, having a good broadband connection while away from the hustle and bustle of the city slowly clawed its way back on top my priority list.

There were more major concerns at first, like a water source and electricity. We had to dig up a deep well in excess of 130 feet just to get good continuous source of water. It had to be manually pumped at first since we did not have electricity to operate a 2HP jetmatic pump. The 5KW diesel generator we bought from China arrived much later and fuel costs to operate it was more expensive than getting water from the tap or have it regularly delivered via a water tank.

Then, the local electric cooperative charged us a hefty fee just to get connected. They claimed we need to buy our own transformer and pay for the cables from their nearest pole which was about 750 meters away. It would cost us over Php200,000 for the whole setup so I backed out and looked into going 100% solar instead.

Eventually, after talking to a few locals, we got our connection thru the assistance of the LGU at less than half of the original quote.

Lastly, there’s broadband connection. Globe signal is nil and cannot even send out a simple text message. Smart has 4G but it feels like Edge/3G and erratic most of time.

So, when Kacific reached out and asked us to try out their satellite internet, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to test it out. Coincidentally, I actually put down $500 for a Starlink reservation over a year ago so I already anticipated this last-ditch solution.

Kacific (Kacific Broadband Satellites Group) is a satellite operator providing a high-speed broadband internet service for the South East Asia and Pacific Islands regions, including the Philippines. They’ve been around since 2013 and recently launched a Ka-band HTS satellite delivered via the SpaceX Falcon 9 back in December 2019.

The last time I experienced satellite internet was at an island resort in Coron, Palawan almost a decade ago and the connection back then was something like 256Kbps so I wasn’t expecting too much from the speed from satellite internet. I’ve also tried satellite internet on many international flights but those didn’t really offer a good experience. Also, that’s a little different considering the plane is moving over 500kmph at 11km above sea level.

The service installer (TBGI) was from Clark so it took them less than half an hour to get to the farm (apparently, Kacific has many local Internet Service Providers and Authorised Distributors, so the ones assigned will nearest your location).

The satellite dish is 1.2m wide, and easy to transport and install. They require low levels of electric power to operate and can be solar-powered as well. The installation and satellite alignment took less than half a day to work out and get the best positioning for the dish.

When it was time to test the connection, I was surprised the download speeds were quite fast. I understood that this was due to the Ka-band technology that Kacific is using, which allows for a higher bandwidth and speeds than older satellite technology such as Ku-band and C-band.

It was ranging from 30Mbps at daytime and up to 73Mbps at night. On average we’d be getting around 40Mbps throughout the entire month we’ve used it. Upload speeds were not as high, ranging from 3Mbps to 10Mbps. We were watching Netflix on my laptop and it streamed flawlessly. We also rely on Dropbox a lot for 4K video footages that we shoot and synching or downloading wasn’t a problem at all. We also uploaded videos to our YouTube account and it was slower by several minutes (what usually took 5 minutes to upload turned up longer to about 15 minutes).

Latency is quite high, as expected, and we are getting somewhere in the range of 500ms. That means you can’t play games like Mobile Legends due to the lag. On the other hand, turn-based games like Civilization will be playable.

A long-range router by Asus came with the setup and they attached a high-gain antenna to make the WiFi range even wider. We are able to get 2 bars of WiFi signal from one end of the farm to the other end which was about 120 meters apart. One concern we had with the fidelity of the connection was during rainy days and, unfortunately, we had not had the chance to experience this in more than a month it has been installed. However, we understood from Kacific that they had diversity sites and technology such as adaptive coding and modulation (ACM) to mitigate this issue.

Kacific has dozens of Internet Service Providers and Authorised Distributors that you can sign up with. Just pick your target location and you will be given a list of ISPs in the vicinity that can provide the satellite services for you.

The one-time terminal fee (1.2m antenna, a 2010 or 2510 modem and a 2W or 3W transceiver) will cost you Php31,200 (Php48k for higher plans). Kacific has the most affordable VSAT kit (with competitors charging around Php35,000 pesos or higher).

Then you can choose from different monthly service plans:


The pricing is kept affordable for such high speeds due to the high-throughput spot beams of the Kacific1 satellite and the choice of Ka-band technology.

These service plans were taken from TBGI (TransPacific Broadband Group Int’l), which is the ISP I was hooked up to for this trial period since they’re the nearest one to my farm.

I would say the 15Mbps or 30Mbps subscription plan would be the best value in terms of the speed and cost of MSF.

The option for internet satellite is really subjective and will heavily depend on the need of the user and the availability of other broadband options. Satellite broadband is complementary to the underserved areas that are not serviced by mobile and fiber infrastructure, which are often in far-flung or mountainous regions (like my farm). Given Kacific’s fast broadband speeds, this is a viable option and something I would certainly use given my situation.

To learn more about Kacific, you can check their website here 17.

 

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Avatar for Abe Olandres

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech with over 20 years of experience in the technology industry. He is one of the pioneers of blogging in the country and considered by many as the Father of Tech Blogging in the Philippines. He is also a technology consultant, a tech columnist with several national publications, resource speaker and mentor/advisor to several start-up companies.

1 Response

  1. Avatar for Dan H. Dan H. says:

    Interesting. I’m in a remote place on Cignal satellite internet, at the lowest plan of a stable 2mbps for p6.5k a month with unlimited data.

    The funny thing about Starlink is people think they’ll get faster internet, which they probably would when it comes to latency for gaming… but the base station will still be based in the Philippines, so you’ll still have Philippine internet using undersea cables with it.

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