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Driving Digital Inclusivity in the Philippines

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The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) joined forces with a telecommunication company to launch the Universal Internet Subscription for GIDA (UISG) Project. This strategic collaboration aims to bring digital access to over 2,000 geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA) across the Philippines, marking a significant step towards achieving digital inclusivity.

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At the core of this endeavour is the Free Public Internet Access Programme, operating under the Broadband ng Masa Initiative. The programme’s mission is to bridge the digital divide and connect Filipinos to the myriad opportunities offered by the digital economy.

Secretary Ivan John Uy of DICT expressed his commitment to turning this vision into reality, ensuring that the benefits of the digital revolution reach every corner of the nation.

The UISG Project involves the deployment of fixed Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs), fibre technology, and satellite-communications-on-the-move terminals to more than 2,000 socially and economically disadvantaged areas. This infrastructure will play a crucial role in assisting other government agencies and Local Government Units (LGUs) with their connectivity needs during calamities.

An unprecedented 145-gigabyte capacity has been allocated for this mixed-technology project. The challenging geographical terrain of the Philippines, with its archipelagic structure, necessitates a diverse approach.

Fibre-enabled access points will be established in areas with viable terrain, numbering around 1,400 sites. For hilly and mountainous regions, fixed VSATs will provide satellite-enabled connectivity to far-flung and isolated communities.

The deployment of satellite-on-the-move terminals, capable of connecting to moving vehicles, will augment disaster and emergency response efforts. Thirty-four of these portable antennas, equipped with carry-on cases and gensets, were recently handed over to DICT for distribution to their regional offices.

DICT Undersecretary Jeffrey Ian Dy emphasised the importance of engaging with capable and reliable service providers to overcome the challenges posed by the country’s diverse and challenging terrain.

The UISG Project, through collaborations with various connectivity providers, currently oversees 4,741 active sites in 1,871 locations across all 17 regions of the Philippines. This translates to a substantial 806TB of internet data being consumed by the public.

The implementation of the UISG Project is a collaborative effort and as of now, 97% of the sites have been activated and accepted, with completion expected by the end of the year. Geographical barriers, inherent in the diverse and often challenging terrain of the Philippines, have traditionally posed impediments to comprehensive internet connectivity initiatives. However, the UISG Project has defied these obstacles through a strategic union of advanced technologies.

By addressing the unique needs of each area through a tailored approach, such as deploying fibre-enabled access points in geographically viable locations and employing fixed VSATs in hilly and mountainous regions, the project ensures that no community is left behind in the digital age.

DICT Undersecretary Jeffrey stressed that the adaptive and inclusive strategy aligns with the broader vision of digital inclusivity, resonating with the principles of the Free Public Internet Access Programme under the Broadband ng Masa Initiative.

As the UISG Project nears its completion, the impact on these geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas is poised to be transformative. Beyond merely bridging the digital divide, it lays the foundation for enhanced educational opportunities, economic growth, and improved healthcare services.

This project serves as a beacon of hope for remote communities, affirming that, with collaboration and technological innovation, the promise of a connected and digitally empowered future is within reach for every corner of the nation.


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