THE government intends to narrow down further the so-called digital divide in the country as it focuses on implementing connectivity projects in geographically-isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDAs), the Department of Information Communications Technology (DICT) said on Saturday.
DICT Undersecretary Jocelle Batapa-Sigue said the agency is prioritizing its connectivity projects in the countryside, targeting the GIDAs as private telecommunications companies implement their infrastructure projects in highly urbanized areas.
“Kung titingnan po natin, iyong lahat pong nilalatag at ginagastusan ng connectivity programs ng DICT ay hindi po sa urban areas because dito po, nandito na iyong commercial players. So iyong inuuna po natin are really the GIDA areas,” the DICT official said in a news forum in Quezon City.
To further underscore the importance of the digital inclusivity push of the Marcos administration in line with the National ICT Month, Sigue noted that the closing ceremonies of the celebration on June 30 will be at Sacol Island in Zamboanga City, one of the far-flung locations in the country.
“Napakalayong island pero maraming bata, maraming pamilya. Last year, first time in their lives, nakapag-send po, nakapag-post sa Facebook kasi nilagyan ng internet ng DICT. Doon po magtatapos iyong ating National ICT Month sa Sacol Island and I’m proud to announce that Sacol Island has been named by the International Telecommunications Union as a potential location to be as a smart village of the world,” Sigue said.
“Hindi po namin iiwan itong mga isla na ito. Hahanap-hanapin namin hanggang ang bawat bata sa mga isla na ito ay makapag-Facebook o makapanood ng vlog or kung ano pa sa internet,” she added.
On Friday, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. led the kick-off of the eGov PH Super App in Malacañang to underline the importance of digital transformation in governance and economic development.
To date, Sigue said internet connectivity coverage in the Philippines is around 73 percent.
“So, para sa amin, kahit malaki itong numero na ito, maliit pa rin kasi sabi mo nga napuputol iyong signal mo. So, it’s not only a question of coverage; it’s also about the question of speed, of latency, of affordability, of access to the internet,” she pointed out.
The DICT official also said the agency has started a national broadband project with a landing station in Baler, Aurora to cover the whole country.
“So, nagsimula na po iyon and it will cover the whole country. Hindi po siya basta-basta kasi it’s a broadband network that will cover the whole country. And based on our projection, sa nakita ko pong pag-explain ni Usec. (Angelo) Nuestro, it will take six years (to complete),” Sigue added.
The National Fiber Backbone (NFB) Phase 1 Spectrum light-up launch held last April at the Baler Cable Landing Station (CLS) will initially provide high-speed internet connectivity in Luzon.
The event facilitated the initial 100 Gbps link-up between Los Angeles, California and the cable landing stations and San Fernando, La Union CLS.
The establishment of the connectivity link-up is part of the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure (LBI) that will provide high-speed internet connectivity to Northern Luzon and Metro Manila once the NFB Phase 1 becomes operational.
The LBI, a project of DICT in partnership with Meta (Facebook) and the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), is a building block of the NFB.