The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said it is exploring the possibility of bringing high-speed broadband access to rural areas in the country, including Palawan, in a bid to usher educational opportunities to residents and promote the province’s economic development.
The DICT targets to shepherd the national broadband initiative to far-flung areas in Palawan by 2020, DICT assistant secretary Engr. Alan Silor said in a visit on March 4 during the Palawan ICT Association (PICTA) assembly.
“Balak namin na dalhin ang broadband connectivity to the countryside which could have positive effects to the development of not just Puerto Princesa, but the rest of Palawan kasi alam natin na maraming maitutulong ang connectivity kung nandito na sa Puerto Princesa in terms of business, e-commerce, education,” Silor said to Palawan News.
Under the agency’s Nationa Broad Plan (NBP), “the blueprint in building infostructures for a digital nation,” the national government will step up the “deployment of fiber optic cables and wireless technologies, and improve the overall internet speed and affordability all over the country, particularly in remote areas.”
The NBP aims to address the need for “universal, faster and affordable Internet Access” through three major strategies: establish policy and regulatory reforms, government investment in broadband infostructure, and dispense support for the stimulation of broadband demand.”
Silor said that based on the NBP, the government through the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) will construct to IT facilities in San Fernando, La Union, and Baler in Aurora province to provide diversity in the international connectivity.
He said the Modular Information Technology Facility’ (MITF) purpose is to have a landing station for international undersea cables terminating in the country to support the Philippine Integrated Infostructure (PhII) targets of the DICT and the need for fast internet access of the national agencies.
“Sa Palawan siguro in 2020, ang focus kasi natin once na matapos ang connectivity sa international, may landing site tayo sa Aurora at saka sa La Union. Kapag makabit na natin ‘yon, saka natin dadalhin across the country. Because of the topography, of course magsisimula ‘yan sa Luzon, pababa ng Visayas then Mindanao,” Silor said.
He said bringing the national internet access program to Palawan would be hard and will take time because of its design as an island province, but it will be included.
“Maybe we could cross the waters ng Batangas, Coron to northern peak ng Palawan, ganoon ang mangyayari. It could take time kasi Palawan is an island, we need submarine cables to connect the bandwidth that we have for the national broadband,” he said.
The Department in October 2018 said the pilot implementation, installation, and testing of the national broadband will be the following month.
DICT gained the support of the House of Representatives when it approved the proposed P2 billion budget for the 2019 implementation.
Last month, the U.S. government gave a P23.8 million grant to the Philippines to assist the DICT in the designing of the national broadband network.
Silor said further that the tourism industries of Puerto Princesa City and the whole province of Palawan could benefit from the connectivity target because of online booking system opportunities and getting buyers and sellers.
“So for agriculture, pwedeng magamit ‘yong technology, application, ‘yong infrastructure where you can promote the local products of Palawan, and, of course, ‘yong tourism destinations kaya kailangan natin ang ICT (information and communications technology). By doing so, ‘yong products of Palawan will not just be available to consumers in Palawan, kahit nationwide o worldwide, kapag maganda ‘yong product if they could be sold online, mas malaki ang audience mo mas malaki ang market mo,” he said.
Silor said that in the city and province, they will be partnering with the PICTA to maximize resources that would give benefits to the locals.
“We are partnering with PICTA, this is a collaboration between private and public sector. This is a good thing because that’s how you maximize resources, kapag ganoon ang mangyayari, ang beneficiary nyan is, of course, the locals,” he said.
Silor stressed the challenges in ICT development is on how to adapt to technology and how to get to be connected.
He pointed out that he is aware of the connectivity problems of PLDT because of the breakdown of its undersea fiber optic cable, and also the slow connection of Globe.