DICT vows faster Internet for PH in budget hearing

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Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) secretary Gregorio Honasan II told legislators during the agency’s budget hearing that the country is on track to have faster and more affordable data connection.

Honasan made the assurance on Tuesday, Sept. 3, when the House Committee on Appropriations tackled the P5.15-billion budget proposal of the DICT for fiscal year 2020.

In his presentation, Honasan said the initiatives of the DICT are aligned towards having a “digital Philippines”, which include programs on forming a digital government, a digital workforce, and digital communities.

“These are only ideas we can only imagine, so far. Kaya po kami dumudulog sa inyo, dahil the whole concept is just a glimpse of the future — far from the reality of the present. The vision of a digital Philippines is an arduous task, and we really need to work hard for it,” said Honasan.

Bulacan representative Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado told the DICT chief: “Pag-aaralan po namin nang masidhi ‘yung inyong proposal upang hindi mag-suffer ‘yung ating mga kababayan sa napakabagal na mobile data. Ito pong panahon na ‘to, alam po nating lahat, na ‘yung data parang necessity na ‘yan.”

Newly appointed DICT assistant secretary Felino Castro V reported that while average data connection in the country is at 4 Mbps, the agency is already working on installing free Wi-Fi in public areas across the Philippines that would offer a data connection of at least 10Mbps.

He vowed that the DICT can complete the installation of about 104,000 sites nationwide by the end of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s term in 2022.

Meanwhile, DICT undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr. explained to the panel that a major factor in the country’s slow data connection is the lack of existing cell towers, with the Philippines having one of the lowest tower densities in Asia.

He said this is the reason why the agency is pushing its common tower policy to allow tower firms to mount at least 50,000 cell towers to address the data needs of Filipinos.

When Buhay party-list representative Jose Atienza Jr. queried about the effects of radiation-emitting cell towers, Rio assured that these will not cause harm to the health of those residing within the vicinity of cell towers.

Ang suggestion po namin, in line with what you said, we recommend to the DICT to call a massive orientation/education campaign among local officials and barangays,” said Atienza. — Molie Gonzales, House of Representatives

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