Officials of the national and local government officials conducted a press briefing in Virac, Catanduanes on Thursday, Nov. 5, using Internet connectivity provided by the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT)’s flyaway very-small-aperture terminal (VSAT).
The press briefing provided updates on the status of response and assistance efforts to the island province. Officials also discussed the urgent needs of the province in terms of shelter, relief packages, healthcare, infrastructure repairs, and the overall need to replenish calamity funds.
The live broadcast was made possible through the flyaway VSAT, which is used for emergency telecommunications as it connects automatically to the satellite to provide connection in disaster-hit areas. The media staff and meeting attendees were also connected to the DICT’s “Free Wi-Fi for All Internet” access points.
The ICT agency said it is helping facilitate information and communication services in Catanduanes, Albay, and other areas dealing with the aftermath of Typhoon Rolly.
Rolly, which was considered as the strongest tropical typhoon of 2020 to date, made landfall on Catanduanes, Albay, Camarines Sur and neighboring areas of Quezon province last Sunday, November 1, leaving the Bicol Region devastated in its wake.
To aid the affected areas, DICT’s Albay Provincial Office is offering free Internet and charging services to Albayanos. The office is located at Post Telecom Building, Lapu Lapu St., Legazpi City. Individuals can avail of the free services within the vicinity, provided they observe proper health protocols.
Further, in Pandan, Catanduanes, select Free Wi-Fi for All sites remain operational, offering connectivity services as Globe Telecom and Smart telecommunication services remain down within the locality.
The DICT said it is also undertaking other initiatives to aid connectivity services in typhoon-hit areas from other regions. The DICT’s Luzon Cluster III (LC3) had installed emergency backup Internet connection in the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) MIMAROPA Regional Office located in PEO Compound, Kumintang Ilaya, Batangas City.The backup service aims to ensure uninterrupted connectivity services for the government office.
The Office of Civil Defense stated that around 53,863 homes were left without electricity following the typhoon’s landfall.
While telco lines had been restored in Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, and Naga City, Catanduanes still lacked access to electricity, running water, or telecommunications. Albay Power and Energy Corporation (APEC) also released a statement recently that estimated a possible 2-month period to fully restore power in Albay province due to severely damaged transmission lines.
As of November 3, 2020, there are now three (3) up and running Free Wi-Fi for All sites located in the Province of Catanduanes:
- Pandan Rural Health Unit (RHU)
- Viga Town Hall Viga
- Viga Rural DHS
Other sites are still down or experiencing intermittent connection due to damage from Typhoon Quinta and Rolly, respectively.