Friday, April 19, 2024

PH Internet access still inadequate even after 30 years of connectivity — Gatchalian

As the country commemorates March 29, 1994 as the day the Philippines was first connected to the Internet, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said that Internet access in the country remains inadequate, potentially hampering economic development if left unaddressed.

Citing data from the Department of Information and Communications Technology based on the 2022 Women and ICT Development Index Survey and the 2019 National ICT Household Survey, there has been a significant rise in household Internet access from 17.7% in 2019 to 76.90% in 2022.

However, a substantial portion of the country’s population being excluded from Internet-based technologies may hinder essential economic advancement, particularly in rural areas.

“Without a doubt, the Internet is the most game-changing technology that continues to reshape the way we live our lives. It is unfortunate that even after 30 years of Internet presence in the country, a sizable portion of our population continues to miss out on its benefits,” Gatchalian lamented.

“The Internet has become a necessity in the area of education, research and development, business promotion and innovation, communication, and financial management, among others. To realize inclusive economic development, particularly in poorer areas of the country, the government needs to double down on its program to provide Internet access to all,” he emphasized.

The senator said that to help propel Internet connectivity in the country, the use and development of satellite-based technologies should be encouraged and promoted.

Gatchalian said he has filed Senate Bill No. 814 or the Satellite-based Technologies for Internet Connectivity Act. The proposed measure aims to ensure universal access to the Internet, especially in critical areas such as e-government and the delivery of basic services, education, health, trade, finance, disaster preparedness, and public safety.

Gatchalian explained that satellite-based Internet technology uses a satellite to get an Internet signal from the Internet Service Provider (ISP) to the user. The ISP sends a fiber Internet signal to a satellite in space. The satellite dish is connected to the modem of the user, which then connects the user to the Internet.

Meanwhile, the DICT recently bared plans to double the number of free Wi-Fi sites in the country with the aim of bridging the digital divide.

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