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The Philippines DICT Launches Technology Education Centre in Santo Tomas

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT)-Isabela and the local government unit (LGU) of Santo Tomas recently signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to establish a Technology Empowerment for Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development (Tech4Ed) centre. Under the agreement, the local government unit will be providing the area or centre infrastructure while the DICT will supply Internet connectivity and computers. The centre will give communities access to government services, non-formal education, skills training, telehealth, job markets, and business portals.

According to a press release, the MOA signing was made between DICT Isabela head, Cirilo Gazzingan Jr. and a representative of Mayor Antonio Talaue Sr. held at the Municipal Hall. Gazzingan noted that the centre is a self-sustaining, shared facility that will offer access to ICT-enabled services and relevant content for Santo Tomas residents. He added that the centre will serve as a conduit for the efficient delivery of government and other services. It will be a potent tool for the empowerment of the unserved and underserved communities in development. Gazzingan further stated that the centre will harness ICT to bridge the digital divide and alleviate poverty in both urban and rural areas, serving as a free e-learning centre equipped with computers with Internet access.

Recently, OpenGov Asia reported that DICT officials were advised to make provisions for the final mile to give more people access to ICT services in the proposed 2022 budget. Instead of replicating or redoing efforts in places where Internet access is already available. Political figures are committed to ensuring that the DICT provides adequate and efficient services to the 89 million Internet users in the country over the next three years, or by January 2025.

According to the DICT, the country’s Internet penetration rate is 60%, though other sources believe it to be closer to 44%. The country now has 25,213 macro cell towers and roughly 127,000 tiny towers, equivalent to around 3,500 customers using each macrocell tower at any given time. The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) stated that the ideal number of Internet users per cell tower is 500, and that to attain this ratio, 150,000 cell towers, in addition to the existing 25,213, are required to serve all 89 million Filipino Internet users.

Section 4 of the Bayanihan 2 law was crafted by Congress last year to simplify the processing of permits for the construction of cell towers in the country, in response to the grievance of telcos. Officials emphasise that DICT should make sure that they will follow through with their commitment and stick to their timetable. “The immediate plan is to expand the number of micro towers since it is faster to compensate for the shortage of huge towers or macro towers. With the assistance of the telcos, we may be able to attain the [ideal] percentage in three years,” Senator Dela Rosa added.

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