February 21, 2024

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DICT Philippines Installs VSATs to Ensure Connectivity in Typhoon-ravaged Towns

Image credit: DICT-13 Information Office

In a bid to ensure connectivity, the DICT-13 Philippines has installed Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs) in the typhoon-ravaged towns of Burgos and San Isidro.Town recipients on the island are Dapa, Burgos, Pilar, San Benito, San Isidro and Sta. Monica.

A Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) is a two-way satellite ground station with a dish antenna that is smaller than 3.8 meters. Capable of accessing satellites in orbit (i.e., geosynchronous or in geostationary orbit), the small terminal can relay data to other terminals at speeds of up to  16 Mbit/s.

With seven VSATs installed in the nearby Dinagat Islands (mainly in Basilisa, Cagdianao, Libjo Loreto, Tubajon, Port of San Jose and at the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office – Emergency Operations Center in San Jose), there is now a total of 13 working mini satellite transceivers for DICT’s “Konek Tawag: Libreng Tawag sa Lahat” connectivity programme.

The “Konek Tawag: Libreng Tawag sa Lahat” programme is being implemented by the Department of Information and Communications Technology-Caraga (DICT-13) for residents who have no power so they can make communicate and access the internet.

Last December, the majority of the people in these recipient towns lost power and connectivity after being pummeled by supertyphoon Odette (Rai) with signal #4 winds in the area. The “Konek Tawag: Libreng Tawag sa Lahat” programme is being implemented by the Department of Information and Communications Technology-Caraga (DICT-13) aims to help residents get back online and resume their lives as fast as possible.

With the services of these VSATs, residents can settle back into a normal routine, albeit slowly. Nonetheless, DICT-13 OIC Regional Director Leo Ugto, as reported on the Philippine News Agency, acknowledges that this is a band-aid solution. The VSATs have been installed temporarily to restore lifeline communications on the island until the internet service from private telecommunications companies becomes stable.

Prior to the supertyphoon Odette and the Konek Tawag programme, DICT has provided Wi-Fi internet access to the towns in Siargao and Dinagat Islands in its Free Wi-Fi for All programme – a more permanent solution.

“While the VSATs are temporary only, the Free WI-Fi programme is permanent and it targets to establish free Wi-Fi access not only to the Odette-stricken areas but all towns in the region. This will boost the connectivity of the provinces,” Ugto explained.

Access to the internet is key to the improvement of lives, provides access to citizen services, enables remote education, and empowers e-commerce especially true during disasters and the pandemic.

The Philippines has been at the forefront of digital transformation efforts across the country. Recently, OpenGov Asia reported that Cebu City deployed a network to improve connectivity amid natural disasters. The network will serve as a backbone for radio communication and internet connectivity, linking the 80 barangays with the City Hall to reduce response time in the event of emergencies or natural disasters.

In another initiative, the National Transmission Corporation (Transco) has successfully tested and applied emerging ICT technologies that will use existing power line infrastructures to help the Department of Education (DepEd) implement its Public Education Network programme. It will provide connectivity and high-speed Internet to public schools nationwide amid the pandemic. Transco is owned by the Department of Energy.

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