A member of the House of the Representatives is urging the government to use Broadband Global Area Networks (BGANs) and Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs) to conduct online learning in remote areas of the country.
The satellite-based wireless technologies were deployed in previous years by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in far-flung and mountainous areas to transmit poll results.
Iligan City representative Frederick W. Siao, vice chair of the House ICT committee, said in a statement that the BGANs and VSATs will fill in many gaps in the Internet signal coverage nationwide.
“I suggest we deploy these equipment and accompanying devices again but this time, to make online learning work for over 32 million students,” Siao said.
The lawmaker said the satellite devices should be used in meantime while the government’s common tower policy has yet to take off the ground.
“While concerned officials get their acts together on the common tower policy and place the interests of consumers above their own, I recommend to the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, and TESDA that they quickly draw lessons from past use of BGANs and VSATs,” he said.
Siao said BGANs can boost signals in areas where the signals are weak and where cell towers are overwhelmed by high traffic volume. VSATs, on the other hand, can be deployed to islands, foothills, mountain slopes, and other remote areas.
“With the slow implementation of the common tower policy, lack of a national broadband backbone, and long-term nature of the laying of submarine telecom cables, these BGANs and VSATs are the rapid deployment solutions,” he said.
Siao said BGANs and VSATs should no longer be considered luxury equipment but essential equipment given the necessity of online communications and online learning.
“The education agencies should work with the DICT and NTC in providing the needed policies. The education agencies ought to consult the technical experts of Comelec on the use of these equipment in past elections,” he stated.
“For the long term, we need that long-delayed national broadband network and should have more companies enter the telecoms and Internet service sectors. Our growing population of 109 million people and hundreds of thousands of businesses make for sufficient national economies of scale.”
The House solon suggested that civil society experts should be called in to serve as “counterbalancers” to watch over private contractors and prevent graft and corruption from the government sector.