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The Vietnamese telecommunications service provider VNPT is planning to begin its trials of 5G, the next-generation wireless technology, in the pedestrian zone around Hoan Kiem Lake in central Hanoi early next month.

According to a press release, the move comes after the company was granted a license by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) to conduct 5G network testing in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City using a total of 100 cellular towers.

The testing will take place on the frequency bands of 2,600MHz and 3,700-3,800MHz. In the capital city, 5G coverage will be provided mainly in the Hoan Kiem Lake area and some locations in Hai Ba Trung District while testing in Ho Chi Minh City will target the pedestrian street of Nguyen Hue, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, and some areas in Districts 3 and 10.

The company said it is purchasing equipment to prepare for installation across the two cities and to ensure that the network can support up to 5,000 subscribers during its trial period.

It is also working with smartphone manufacturers to test devices currently available on the market so that users will have the best experience, the release said. To date, more than half of all available devices have been tested. Earlier, MIC had also granted similar licenses to Viettel and Mobifone, two other major mobile carriers in Vietnam.

OpenGov Asia recently reported that MIC and the Market Licensing Division of the Vietnam Telecommunications Authority decided to shut down old-tech wavebands so that network operators can optimise operations and reserve frequency resources for new technologies. This will promote the digital society and digital economy.

By getting rid of 2G and 3G technologies, countries are free to apply different methods and have different targets. Deploying 5G mobile technology simultaneously with 2G, 3G, and 4G networks will be expensive and ineffective.

Shutting down 3G networks would be less costly because the number of terminals for them is less than the devices that only support 2G. Also, 3G is an incomplete data transmission technology that has a higher data transfer speed than 2G, but it does not support high-speed interactive services such as television, video, and streaming like 4G technology does.

On the other hand, the disadvantage is that it will not create breakthrough developments in a society striving for a digital economy and society, which the Party and government are determined to promote.

Although shutting down 2G will be harder, the government will be able to accelerate the implementation of the national digital transformation program by 2025 approved by the Prime Minister, which notes that 4G/5G and smartphones will be promoted for every Vietnamese citizen.

Vietnam’s proposed roadmap to switch off old technologies is in accordance with the national development plan. When switching off 2G, it is necessary to apply a policy to help people shift to smartphones. When the number of subscribers using old-tech networks falls to 5%, then it will be the right time to switch off the networks.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Luzon Cluster 3, through the Free Wi-Fi for All Programme (FW4A), has recently completed setting up 80 newly activated free Internet sites within 20 locations in the island provinces of Occidental and Oriental Mindoro.

According to a press release, the DICT Secretary, Gregorio B. Honasan II, noted, “It is this administration’s strong stand that Internet is a right. Access to data is a right – much like food, water, shelter, education, and healthcare, among others. Thus, it is the duty of the government to ensure that this right is afforded to every Filipino citizen—that every Filipino is connected to the Internet, regardless of where they are in the Philippines,”

Institutionalised through the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act, DICT has been fast-tracking the rollout of the programme in light of the pressing connectivity demands of the new normal. The launching of the Internet hotspots in Mindoro is expected to enhance accessibility to the Internet and to bring digital opportunities closer to the residents.

“I hope that this will be the first step in forging a productive partnership as Wi-Fi connectivity is now considered as an essential need, more so in this challenging time of the pandemic crisis when quarantine measures compel our students to study through online learning and employees to work from home,” said Mayor Arnan C. Panaligan of Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro.

In reopening the economy and when transacting business online becomes a compelling necessity, the Free Wi-Fi for All Program is an important step in the right direction in ensuring the people’s access to Wi-Fi connectivity, he added.

The press release said that, presently, the modern Filipino’s life revolves around technology, however, due to poverty and challenging circumstances, many citizens are deprived of the opportunities provided by new technology. Thus, it is part of the mandate of the DICT to bring technology closer to the public. The Free Wi-Fi for All Programme allows people, particularly students, to access the Internet and limitless digital opportunities.

Government representatives and partners from the province of Occidental Mindoro also noted how the programme is a welcome development for the community, especially for the education sector. “This programme will be helpful for our citizens, particularly our students with little or no access to Internet services. Through this program, we expect that their educational burdens will be eased. Again, we are thankful for the support.”

Further, free Internet connectivity and access are now available at the Relief Operations Centre of Cagayan under the same programme. The centre is located at the Capitol Compound, Tuguegarao City.

The free Wi-Fi aims to provide support to the provincial local government unit of Cagayan in information dissemination and coordination as they provide relief assistance to families affected by Typhoon Ulysses and the subsequent flooding in Cagayan and Isabela.

More than 100 families have already benefitted from the free Wi-Fi and charging services since 14 November; citizens have to follow standard health protocols. 60 government sites are connected to the Regional Government Network (GovNet) in Tuguegarao City and DICT is taking other initiatives to boost connectivity services in affected areas including the deployment of a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) flyaway antenna equipment.

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) announced a major organisational restructuring on 16 November 2020 to reinvent its role as the leader of Malaysia’s digital economy and ensure it benefits the many. This follows the recent appointment of four industry leaders to MDEC’s Board of Directors and further emphasises the firm commitment of MDEC’s leadership towards delivering more for less at speed, addressing disruption of the new norm and improving its standard of governance.

In these unprecedented times, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, change is inevitable. Recognising that digital transformation and adoption is crucial to capitalise on new opportunities. MDEC is confident that the new agile, streamlined and collaborative leadership structure will enable mass outreach and achieve its vision of Malaysia 5.0 – achieving a people-first society in the age of 4IR technology.

Reinventing MDEC

The reinvented MDEC will introduce four strategic focus areas, driven by a newly constituted MDEC Operating Council comprising five divisions:

All five Division leaders in the MDEC Operating Council will report to the CEO of MDEC, and work closely with the transformation and corporate functions. Implementing the right, lean, new leadership structure is key to executing at speed, expanding mass outreach, and creating a measurable socio-economic impact in a digital-first future.

Digital MDEC will prioritise strategic national alignment and the complete digitalisation of all MDEC’s processes and services. It will also implement the recommendations from the holistic governance review. Digitally Powered Businesses will drive two specific thrusts: driving digital adoption among businesses and scaling digital industry players.

Digital Investments aims to attract investment into the catalytic digital-tech sectors and 4IR technologies. The main thrust of Digitally Skilled Malaysians will be on reskilling, job matching and the sharing (Gig) economy.

The five divisions are expected to collaborate closely and deploy agile teams to work across the divisions to provide fast and seamless solutions to address opportunities and challenges. Together, these four strategic focus areas and five divisions will be instrumental in firmly establishing Malaysia as the ‘Heart of Digital ASEAN’.

MDEC will introduce the IOOI (Input, Output, Outcome, Impact) Valuation Metrics in its planning to guide future resource allocation and utilisation, and effectively measure the organisation’s socio-economic contribution to society. This will directly cultivate a high-performing and high-impact organisation.

The Chairman of MDEC stated that the reinvention will ensure clarity in vision, increased ownership, and a collaborative approach to drive success. This is the time for MDEC to be bold and lead the digital leap for Malaysia to build a digital economy for all Malaysians.

This reinvention is expected to positively impact the digital ecosystem. With four strategic focus areas and cross-division agile teams, MDEC expects to break down silos and drive both synergies and efficiencies across teams. People, industry and investors will benefit from streamlined access to relevant subject-matter expertise, programmes and financial support initiatives. Internally, processes will be much less labour-intensive through digitalisation, enabling better customer service.

Malaysia as the Heart of Digital ASEAN

Malaysia is on track to achieve its bold aspiration to become the ‘Heart of Digital ASEAN’. The country ranked 8th within the Asia-Pacific region in the Global Innovation Index 2020, which ranks the innovation capacities of 131 economies in the world, and 11th in Startup Genome’s Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2020, which ranks the top 140 start-up ecosystems globally.

In the new tech age, digital innovations will serve as a social equaliser to drive shared prosperity for all Malaysians, which is why achieving Malaysia 5.0 must be a national priority. As the trailblazer of Malaysia’s digital economy, MDEC’s reinvention will pave the way for it to lead Malaysia to make the digital leap into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, cementing the country’s status as one of the foremost Asian nations to embrace the new digital-first reality.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is pushing for the completion of the government-owned broadband network in a bid to improve the internet quality in the country, expand its coverage and make it more affordable to people. The DICT has been looking for a bigger budget for 2021 to allow the government to complete its broadband network through the National Broadband Program (NBP) in the face of increasing dependence on connectivity and internet service due to the pandemic.

The approved budget under the 2021 National Expenditure Program has been set PHP 902 million (US$ 18.6 million). Secretary Gregorio Honasan has appealed to the Senate and the House of Representatives for an additional PHP18 billion (US$ 371.4 million) for the NBP completion and rollout.

“We accept the fact that the appreciation of the government sector for ICT being the future is limited. More priority is given to those which can be felt—roads, bridges—those that are physical. That’s the infrastructure component. But from where we see it, we believe that we can actually do these simultaneously,” Honasan said at a Senate budget hearing recently,  where he emphasised that the new normal dictates that the government should make ICT program a priority.

According to Rey Caintic, DICT assistant secretary for Digital Philippines, the completion of the NBP will make internet service cheaper and accessible while improving the quality. He added that the country’s internet service may be expensive as compared to other countries because of the costs involved to build relevant ICT infrastructure.

These costs would include laying of fibre optic cables and erecting towers. The government needs to builds a fibre backbone – first mile, middle mile. When the government lays this groundwork (like the towers and fibre) private networks can connect to this infrastructure and start to distribute to residential sectors. He suggested that spectrum users fee paid by telcos can be used by the government to re-invest it in creating more digital infrastructure.

Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) reiterated at the same the senate hearing that the Philippine government should invest in a broadband network, just other countries where states pour massive capital in telecommunications infrastructures for better service. All the telcos lease from the national government. That is the model that is being used in other countries so their service is reasonable. They have no problem with the right of way and with permits because it is the national government that is doing all of that.

Studies have shown that in neighbouring Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia and Vietnam, their governments have made substantial investments for its internet and national broadband plan. From 2014-2019, Indonesia’s total funding requirement for its national broadband plan amounted to approximately PHP1.12 trillion (US$ 23.1billion), 10 %of which was covered by the state budget. Vietnam has spent about PHP39.7 billion (US$ 532.1million) worth of investments for a 23,000-km system submarine cable to boost its ICT.

Meanwhile, South Korea, one of the countries with the fastest internet service in the world, had invested some PHP1.34 trillion (US$ 27.7billion) in 1995 for its internet connectivity under the 10-year Korean Information Infrastructure Project, its version of the NBP. Australia and New Zealand had allocated PHP1.79 trillion (US$ 36.9 billion) and PHP1.9 trillion (US$ 39.2 billion), respectively, for their national broadband network.

The Philippines is taking its internet connectivity and wi-fi access for all very seriously and has been for several years. The Philippine government has an ambitious program to provide free public Wi-Fi to all citizens in all public places in the country underpinned by legislation that passed in 2017 that mandates the government’s Department of Information and Communications (DICT) to implement the Free Public Internet Access Program.

OpenGov Asia has reported on DICT’s boosting communication services in aftermath of typhoon Goni. It has also distributed free wi-fi to schools including Zamboanga, province-wide connectivity in Zambales and to aid in military education. Another article revealed how the National Broadband Program could save the Philippines US$ 15 million in 2021

A Japan-based tech company under the Hong Kong Smart Government Innovation Lab recently announced that it has launched a new solution which is now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.

Solution description

Generally, network availability within countryside parks is limited. In addition, investment in the development of a wired network is very expensive. So, using wireless access is one of the best methods to achieve better connectivity.

However, using a 4G/5G network will incur monthly fees, and with 4G/5G the network coverage in the suburbs is also limited. Thus, the company recommends using their proprietary fixed wireless access communication (FWA) services because of its fast speed, high reliability and easy installation. After installing this system, it can effectively monitor wildlife in country parks as well. If dangers and emergencies are found, control centres can be notified immediately and appropriate handling can be made right away.

Application areas

The solution was designed for implementation across various areas including City Management, Environment, Health as well as Infrastructure.

Technologies Used

The solution employs the latest in Mobile Technologies and Predictive Analytics.

Use Case

Users can install the fixed wireless access communication (FWA) monitoring system on the periphery of the country park. A monitoring post, equipped with a camera, can be set up around every two hundred metres. Solar power can also be used to reduce power requirements.

When wild animals walk near the country park at the periphery, the motion sensors will trigger the camera to take pictures and send them to the control centre and send out alarms via e-mail. In addition, buzzers can also be installed on the system to deter animals from approaching and blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs) can be used to frighten them away. When wild animals leave the country park, relevant departments can take immediate action.

About fixed wireless access communication (FWA) monitoring systems

Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) enables network operators to deliver ultra-high-speed broadband to suburban and rural areas, supporting home and business applications where fibre is prohibitively expensive to lay and maintain, one article notes.

The cost and complexity of delivering fixed broadband have continually challenged the roll-out of high-speed data services. While technologies such as WiMAX have attempted to bypass the local loop or prevent the fibre trench, these initiatives largely failed – primarily because they demanded a completely new overlay infrastructure and expensive proprietary equipment.

In contrast, 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) employs standardized 3GPP architectures and common mobile components to deliver ultra-high-speed broadband services to residential subscribers and enterprise customers.

Featuring New Radio (NR) in the millimetre wavelength (mmWave), 5G FWA can provide a competitive alternative to fixed-line DSL, cable and fibre across all markets. This provides how suburban and rural consumers can receive the bandwidth required to support high definition streaming services and high-speed Internet access.

About the Smart Government Innovation Lab

In 2018, the Government established the Smart Government Innovation Lab to explore hi-tech products such as AI and relevant technologies, including machine learning, big data analytics, cognitive systems and intelligent agent, as well as blockchain and robotics from firms, especially local start-ups.

The Lab is always on the lookout for innovation and technology (I&T) solutions that are conducive to enhancing public services or their operational effectiveness. I&T suppliers are encouraged to regularly visit the Lab’s website to check on the current business and operational needs in public service delivery and propose innovative solutions or product suggestions to address them.

Malaysia’s digital economy has been on a steady rise, growing at around 21% annually. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Malaysian government recognised this growth as a crucial driver to stimulate economic recovery. The government has been continuously promoting the nation’s digital agenda through multiple policies and initiatives.

A key investment destination

Consistent growth and uptake of digital tools in the past few years are indicative of Malaysia’s robust Digital Economy and have attracted foreign investors. The Fintech adoption rate is also increasing in Malaysia and the region with consumers, wanting more financial inclusion, better fees, and easier ways to transfer funds. With high-speed broadband facilities and better digital literacy are also driving adoption.

4IR and Malaysia’s 5.0 Digital Economy

At the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), Malaysia has the opportunity to re-engineer the human experience using technologies that could decentralised authority and de-emphasise divisions along the lines of colour, creed and country – what the Japanese have coined as “Society 5.0”. This concept is now being adopted locally as “Malaysia 5.0”.

Now, MDEC is poised to take on a leading role in catalysing the transition to Malaysia 5.0 as a new narrative for the nation. This includes introducing using emerging technologies that are now considered essential tools in the new Malaysia 5.0 digital economy.

Malaysia 5.0 directly addresses financial inclusion, access, performance and growth through the 4IR tools, such as fintech, blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI). These digital initiatives and hubs will emerge as core components for the next-gen infrastructure of every country. They will be the ones facilitating the interoperability of goods and services that are flowing through them with interconnectivity between various market sectors.

4IR tech to propel Malaysia forward

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a global standstill and impacted several industries – some more than others. Industries such as Food & Beverage (F&B), Aviation, Travel, Tourism and Retail experience unprecedented disruptions in supply chains and consequently led to a surge in unemployment rates.

According to the Chairman, the COVID-19 pandemic allows for the exploration of new technologies that could lead to more sustainable, inclusive and resilient economies and societies. New technological paradigms are introduced, reflecting the greater need for collaboration across all stakeholders. Interconnectivity in this extraordinary situation is crucial for the nation to achieve shared prosperity.

The country’s digital infrastructure and readiness to embrace technology allowed people to weather the storm. Ever since the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced, online services and e-wallet applications saw a considerable boost in users. People are ordering food, groceries and other necessities online to avoid contact and reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection.

In addition, Malaysia’s research arms are actively deploying IR 4.0 solutions to curb the spread of the virus. Business owners and employees embraced the new normal by espousing WFH practices and utilising cloud-based video conferencing solutions to participate in online meetings.

4IR represents new ways in which technology can be embedded within societies. The integration of robotics, machine learning, AI, Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, financial technology (fintech), data analytics and drone technology with the synergy of 5G infrastructure will displace conventional technology and significantly alter the way consumers, industries and businesses operate.

Sustainable Digital Economy & Value Creation

By embracing 4IR and “Malaysia 5.0” for the nation’s economic recovery, Malaysia has achieved a balanced and equitable growth distribution across all layers of society. The emphasis on well-being and environmental conservation has always been at the forefront of development initiatives.

In the agricultural sector, modernisation and digital transformation would guarantee food security, increased productivity, strengthen supply chains and enable digitally skilled workers. For instance, in oil palm plantations and paddy fields, drone technology and other agrotechnology has helped plants and farmers monitor and enhance crop production to generate a more sustainable and viable source of income.

The adoption of emerging technologies in traditional industries such as agriculture is aligned with Malaysia’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to improve the well-being and income of farmers, fishermen, agro-based entrepreneurs and livestock breeders.

Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and MDEC announced a joint effort to co-design pilot policy principles and regulatory frameworks to accelerate the utilisation of drone tech for societal benefits. Aside from increasing crop yields, drones can be efficiently used to identify dangerous conditions without putting workers at risk, act as a lifeline for remote populations and reduce carbon emissions.

Thus, 4IR technologies could establish a much better living environment; create new, more purposeful employment opportunities; upskill the labour force; better health and education, and create smarter, greener cities.

Spearheading digital transformation

MDEC positions itself at the vanguard of digital transformation by focusing on stimulating inclusive, high-quality growth. Its current role is to ensure Malaysia makes the Digital Leap and embrace the era of 4IR to drive shared prosperity and to reinforce the country’s role as the Heart of Digital ASEAN, a regional digital powerhouse and industry trailblazer. These are focused on three primary focused drivers: empowering Malaysians with digital skills, enabling digitally-powered businesses, and driving digital investments.

Focusing on the long-term

Malaysia’s digital economy is forecasted to contribute 20% to the economy by 2020, a surge of 2.2% since 2015. Backed by the launch of the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) in 2017 and the current global crisis, the e-commerce sector is expected to exceed RM110 billion by 2020, comprising nearly 40% of Malaysia’s digital economy.

MDEC had the foresight to encourage the development and testing of next-generation technologies such as blockchain and fintech. This proved fundamental in attracting many start-ups and foreign investors to be based in Malaysia. Addressing the growing demand for digitally skilled Malaysians, MDEC introduced the Tech Talent Development initiative to upskill and reskill the workforce. This has further sustained the nation’s investment appeal.

The Malaysian government also incentivised its industrial sectors by offering tax breaks for the electronics sector and related intellectual property (IP); automation equipment capital allowance for services; and provision of incentives for digitalisation and innovation efforts to accelerate digital transformation.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines Education, Training, and Doctrine Command (AFPETDC) has installed free connectivity services under the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s (DICT) Free Wi-Fi for All – Free Public Internet Access Program.

The AFPETDC, which houses the AFP Command General Staff College (CGSC), is mandated to provide professional military education to AFP uniformed personnel for higher command responsibilities and doctrine development.

According to a press release, to commemorate the establishment of free Wi-Fi at AFPETDC, a virtual launching ceremony was held on 28 October with DICT and AFPETDC officials in attendance.

“We understand the plight of our educators, trainers, and learners during these unprecedented times, and we cannot take this sitting down. We hope that by making free Internet available in public schools, colleges, and universities, we can help alleviate the situation,” DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II asserted. “We likewise hope that we were also able to help the AFPETDC in its quest of providing quality education and training to its learners by providing free Wi-Fi Internet in the AFPETDC premises,” he added.

Free Wi-Fi has been made available at the AFPETDC’s library for the benefit of both professors and students, allowing them access to limitless learning and teaching resources online. Officers on-site may also use free Wi-Fi services for the submission of reports and other daily tasks requiring an Internet connection.

The Free Wi-Fi for All is one of the greatest leaps that the government has made to accelerate the efforts of enhancing accessibility for the Filipinos, Major General Edgard A. Arevalo of the AFPETDC said. “We are grateful that DICT has chosen AFPETDC as one of its recipients as it has tremendously helped us, especially our students in their academic requirements amid the COVID-19,” he added.

The prioritisation of the connectivity needs of the education sector for S.Y. 2020-2021 is one of the key objectives of the Free Wi-Fi for All Program’s intensified rollout. Presently, the project has established free Wi-Fi sites in 138 public libraries, 1,018 public schools, 967 state universities/colleges, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) institutions.

The intensified rollout of the Free Wi-Fi for All Program is a significant component of the department’s commitment to accelerate the provision of equitable Internet access for Filipinos so that they may benefit from the economic, social, and educational opportunities of the new normal, Honasan explained.

There are currently 6,723 Free Wi-Fi for All sites nationwide as of 27 October, covering 80 provinces, including Metro Manila, and 1,021 municipalities and cities. DICT is targeting the rollout 10, 069 live sites by the end of 2020. It also plans to establish up to 100,000 Wi-Fi access sites by 2023, following the deployment of the National Broadband Program. DICT has also expressed complete support for the vision of e-governance as outlined in the Senate Bill 1738 (E-Governance Act of 2020) as a means of institutionalising e-governance in the Philippines to cope with the transition to the new normal and the challenges posed by the COVID-19 threat.

Ninety schools in the Zamboanga Peninsula are now Internet-connected through the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s (DICT) Free Wi-Fi in Public Areas and State University and Colleges initiative.

The project is part of the Department’s efforts to aid the education sector transition to ‘new normal of learning’. A press statement explained that the government recognises the importance of the Internet in the continuance of education in the new normal and is aware that, despite this, a lot of teachers and students still do not have Internet connectivity in their homes. With the provision of free Wi-Fi Internet within these communities, the department hopes to be able to help address some of the challenges faced by learners and teachers as they adjust to blended learning, at least with the availability and affordability of Internet connectivity.

Various school heads expressed their appreciation to DICT for free Internet connectivity and access. According to them, free Internet access has helped teaching and non-teaching staff, as well as students, better adapt to the new normal in the education sector. Teachers have easy access to different educational platforms.

Online platforms are now feasible, and students are very happy to learn in a modern way with the use of the Internet provided, Adrian G. Refugio, Principal of Zamboanga del Norte National High School, stated.

“It (Free Wi-Fi) provided us with better Internet connectivity that we need for our schoolwork and to be more productive despite restrictions of the new normal. It allows us to perform our duty on the go without thinking that we will run out of data,” Maria Lisa B. Elopre-Valdehueza, Principal of Dipolog City National High School added. “It maximises information dissemination, lessens the burden of teachers because communication with our students is made easy through Facebook messenger and other Google platforms.”

Last month, OpenGov Asia reported that DICT and the local government unit (LGU) of Zambales would provide internet connectivity in the province through the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MoA).

Under the MoA, the province received the continuous deployment of free public Wi-Fi through DICT’s Free Wi-Fi for All Program and established the Zambales Provincial Broadband Network.

The ceremonial signing took place during the launching of 64 free Wi-Fi live sites in 16 locations in Zambales. The fee Wi-Fi sites were the result of the cooperation between DICT and the Province of Zambales, formalised through a previous MoA signed in January. These sites have been accessible to the public since August this year.

The heightened clamour for internet connectivity after the onset of the community quarantine in the Philippines took the telecommunications sector by surprise. Government offices, hospitals, state universities, and local colleges, among others, have benefitted from existing free Wi-Fi sites in the province. These include the President Ramon Magsaysay State University and the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy. The MOA was expected to provide more public institutions with free Internet.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Broadband Network will be linked to the national broadband backbone. Phase 1 of the government-owned network will be completed by the end of 2020. The collaboration aims to be a catalyst in furthering inclusive and comprehensive broadband penetration in the province by supporting the government’s initiative to establish a provincial broadband network. And by ensuring that the provincial LGU is provided with adequate bandwidth at reasonable, competitive rates as allowed by law, if not free, the DICT Secretary, Gregorio B.Honasan, explained.

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