The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) in the Philippines has announced a substantial stride in its National Broadband Plan. In collaboration with internet service provider Stellarsat Solutions Inc. and its partner Kacific Broadband Satellites, DICT has established high-speed internet connectivity across the North Luzon provinces via 438 satellite broadband sites.
The collaboration process has been transformative, embodying DICT's mission to bridge the digital divide in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA). The project took just 30 days to complete and involved connecting 438 sites across the North Luzon provinces of Benguet, Kalinga, Ifugao, Ilocos Norte, Quezon, and Pangasinan. This achievement marks the largest VSAT installation and activation in the Philippines.
Residents in Northern Luzon now have access to a multitude of essential digital services without the need to travel for hours to get online. Despite significant advancements in digital connectivity, the Philippines still struggles with a digital divide, with 65% of Filipinos lacking access to the internet. DICT is committed to addressing this digital divide by ensuring the sustainable growth of ICT-enabled industries and providing access to key ICT infrastructures and services for every Filipino.
The project's achievement underlines the commitment of DICT to digital transformation in the GIDA regions and the role of Stellarsat Solutions Inc. in deploying and connecting satellite terminals with the support and expertise of Kacific. The result of this successful collaboration is that residents in Northern Luzon can now readily access essential digital services through high-speed broadband.
DICT Secretary Ivan Uy emphasised the importance of satellite technology in achieving better connectivity and digital inclusivity in GIDA during his visit to North Luzon. The project also has a significant impact on the region's micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), providing them with the tools to engage in the thriving e-commerce landscape. The improved connectivity fosters e-commerce transactions, e-retail growth, and the development of digital payment systems. It also facilitates online education and remote work opportunities, transforming remote areas into digital communication hubs.
The role of the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC), an attached agency of the DICT, was crucial in ensuring the security and quality of the installation sites. The CICC coordinated the deployment of VSATs, ensuring strict adherence to industry standards, conducted security assessments, and considered the possibilities of initiating educational outreach programs in these GIDA areas.
"One big challenge in connecting the Philippines is our geographic location and the nature of our archipelago. Access to the internet opens a world of opportunities for locals in those areas. With reliable and affordable broadband internet, Filipinos in Northern Luzon province can access not only the Philippines but the entire world, capitalising on the benefits of the digital era," stated DICT Secretary Ivan Uy.
"While the journey is far from over, the digital divide in the Philippines gets smaller with each connection made. It has been an honour for us to collaborate with the DICT on this mission to shape a future where connectivity knows no bounds," said Christian Patouraux, Kacific CEO.