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Philippine Satellite Tech to Boost Internet Access for Education

Without a doubt, internet connectivity has become a defining feature in the pursuit of education in the Philippines during the pandemic. The problem is access to the internet is still a challenge, especially in rural areas. Indeed, the education sector is among the most affected.

In light of this, Philippine legislators pushed for the passage of the Public Schools of the Future in Technology (PSOFT) Act. The bill seeks to promote the use of technology to deliver quality education and ensure adequate investment in digital and technological infrastructure for public schools.

However, the legislative is not the only branch of the government that’s answering the call for greater internet adoption for education. The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) knows it has a role to achieve this. Thus, it has placed a spotlight on the space segment of telecommunications and internet infrastructure.

In this regard, PhilSA intends to bring to fore relevant space technologies that enable internet connectivity, including solutions and services from new and emerging satellite constellations in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO).

– Joel Marciano Jr., Director General, Philippine Space Agency

Indeed, PhilSA has become an implementing agency in this endeavour. As a member of the PSOFT Interagency Task Force (IATF), it is tasked to develop the PSOFT Roadmap. The proposed measure seeks to consolidate the development plans, programs, and projects to be implemented by various departments and agencies of the national government to advance digital technology and innovation in public basic education.

Among the components of the PSOFT Roadmap is the “Universal Access to the Internet for Public Schools”, which aims that all public basic education schools be provided with internet access to help reduce the digital divide among learners and raise the standards of education for all.

Certainly, that brings satellite technology to the fore. There may not be a faster way to spread internet access than via satellite. Towards the goal, PhilSA launched the INCENTIVISE (Introducing Non-Geostationary Satellite Constellations Test Deployments to Improve Internet Service) project. Moreover, it called for new Satellite Internet Operators (SIOs) to launch test deployments in selected remote sites.

Marciano noted that by allowing satellite SIOs to conduct test deployments in the country, government agencies like DepED, the private sector, and the public can experience and assess the performance of satellite broadband internet services for various sectors which include:

  • Education
  • Telehealth
  • Disaster response
  • Telecommuting
  • E-commerce

The INCENTIVISE project will facilitate the entry and deployment of satellite user terminals and/or gateway equipment, to allow access to LEO and MEO satellites to establish a much-needed broadband internet connection.

Meanwhile, Marciano said PhilSA shall also advise and collaborate with DepEd on the use of space technology and relevant space-enabled services to implement relevant provisions in the Bill. This possibly includes the generation, processing and use of spaceborne data, satellite images and other geospatial information to support the operations of DepEd in monitoring school buildings or infrastructure.

Plus, other plans of PhilSA include the regular nationwide baseline assessment of space education in Philippine schools that is expected to underpin collaborative efforts between PhilSA and DepED in infusing SSTA into the curriculum.

In addition, Mariano is encouraging students to take up space technology. PhilSA, he said, is offering scholarships to Filipinos to undertake SSTA graduate-level studies in universities here and abroad. Expanding opportunities to support educational programs in SSTA at the undergraduate and secondary levels, especially in public schools, is being considered.

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