Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid has filed a bill aiming to establish broadband Internet connection in all unserved and underserved cities, municipalities, and barangays in the country.
Lapid said all aspects of the social and economic life of Filipinos are now being continually and consistently being shaped by the Internet and its associated technologies. Telehealth, online education, digital commerce, and fintech are just some of the new and innovative ways of doing things brought about by the digital transformation phenomenon, he said.
He noted, however, that the current pandemic has highlighted the existing digital divide, with reports that students are deferring returning to school because of lack of Internet access and technology at home. This, he said, is why all areas in the country should be covered by Internet connection.
“Sa kasamaang palad, marami sa ating mga kababayan ang hindi makasabay sa pagtungo natin sa digital age. Problema pa rin ng marami sa atin ang mabilis na Internet connection at para sa mga mahihirap nating kapatid, ang pagkakaroon ng Internet ay isang bagay na hindi kasama sa kanilang prayoridad lalo sa maliit nilang kinikita. Problema din ang kuneksyon sa Internet sa malalayong lugar o isolated areas. Kaya gusto nating tugunan ang problemang ito sa pamamagitan ng pagsulong na makapagtayo ng pasilidad para sa broadband Internet connection sa mga lugar na pinaka-kailangan ito,” Lapid said.
Senate Bill 1598 also known as “Last Mile Broadband Internet Connection Act,” pushes that for every mobile phone number subscription, telecommunication companies are mandated to set up and establish a facility for broadband Internet connection in an unserved and underserved city, municipality or barangay.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) will be tasked to conduct a study to determine these unserved and underserved areas in the county, which are in great need of Internet connection. The agency will also be the one to report and monitor the compliance to this program.
“Oras na maisabatas ang panukalang ito, inaasahan natin na walang komunidad ang maiiwan pagdating sa Internet connectivity. Lalo sa panahon ngayon na hindi na lamang luho ang Internet kung isang mahalagang pangangailangan para sa trabaho at edukasyon,” Lapid said.