A US-supported program, Introducing Non-Geostationary Satellite Constellations Test Deployments to Improve Internet Service (INCENTIVISE), is working to bring fast and reliable internet connectivity to remote areas in the Philippines using satellite broadband technology.
The program, launched by the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) and the Department of Science and Technology’s Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI), allows satellite operators to conduct pilot tests in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs) to demonstrate the viability of satellite broadband technology and assess its performance in the country.
It is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which recently facilitated PhilSA’s procurement of SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet services for two pilot areas in Dingalan, Aurora, and Jomalig, Quezon, where residents praised the positive impact on education and healthcare.
“With the help of the internet, we can now conveniently conduct video calls to the local Barangay Health Station to provide clear instructions on medication before our actual visit and check-up appointment,” said Bing Sabado, a midwife of the Rural Health Office of Dingalan, Aurora.
“The internet is a big help to the teachers and students especially in lesson planning because they now have access to online resources,” said Dr. Sharon Villaverde, Public Schools District Supervisor in Jomalig, Quezon. “The lessons now have become more interactive and engaging because the teachers are incorporating the use of technology and the internet.”
Jeff Goebel, the Director of the USAID Philippines Office of Economic Development and Governance, also said that satellite internet is a dependable option for individuals residing in rural or remote areas where conventional land-based connections are not accessible.
“The entry of satellite broadband technology in the Philippines is crucial to help bridge the digital divide and ensure that every Filipino has access to the opportunities that come with the digital age,” said Goebel.
The program is ongoing, and USAID is continuing to work with PhilSA and DOST-ASI to identify other GIDA sites to test the viability and effectiveness of satellite broadband technology.
Through programs like INCENTIVISE, USAID said it is supporting the modernization of the Philippines’ digital infrastructure to increase access to the global market, enable e-commerce and online transactions, facilitate communication and information exchange, and foster innovation and entrepreneurship.