THE Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) are working together to push satellite connectivity towards the country’s digital transformation and economic recovery.
In a meeting with DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy, PCCI President George Barcelon stressed the importance of connectivity for economic recovery and PCCI’s readiness to participate in the department’s digital transformation and infrastructure programs.
“PCCI is looking at enabling satellite connectivity to ensure that government services and social services, such as education, health care and skills training, will effectively reach the unserved and underserved areas while also facilitating economic activities in these areas,” Barcelon said.
Perry Ferrer, PCCI director for Innovation and Digital Economy and Science and Technology, said the chamber is ready to launch Phase 1 of proof of concept (POC) project on satellite connectivity. Phase 1 of POC will set up internet via satellite in six geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas in the country, divided equally among the three main islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Phase 2 of the project proposes that the Philippines will have its own satellite. PCCI and DICT will form a working team to launch the POC on satellite connectivity project.
Supporting PCCI’s POC project, Uy pointed out that a satellite dish orients itself and there is no need for engineers to do it. The deployment of a dish will also be quicker since no towers are needed. Furthermore, the current fiber backbone is only good for highly urban areas. When distance is far, connectivity becomes inefficient, such as on islands like Palawan.
The DICT chief added that connectivity will also benefit the education sector, and the department is working with the Department of Education for the development of online learning modules that makes use of readily available online teaching materials done by experts. Online modules will only need moderators or facilitators, compensating for the lack of teachers and classrooms in the country. This will also help to standardize knowledge among urban and rural areas.
Uy also encouraged PCCI to promote online banking and provide e-commerce opportunities for rural communities. Most businesses were not able to transition online during the pandemic because of the cost of hiring a programmer.
He further suggested extending assistance to micro, small and medium enterprises in rural areas by providing an e-commerce platform that functions like an online marketplace with a digital payment system, logistics and sourcing. A program and database that can be used as a model can be taken from a project the DICT is developing for local government units.