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100 Mbps minimum speed for the most remote areas

According to the United Nations, about 3.4 billion people living in rural areas worldwide can have better quality of life through improved access and internet connectivity.

In the UN’s 2021 World Social Report “Reconsidering Rural Development,” digital technologies can help bridge the rural-urban divide if rural populations are provided with access to digital finance, precision tools for better crop yields, and jobs that can be done remotely.

According to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, many jobs that are considered to be urban can be performed in rural areas as well if there is high-quality internet connectivity and flexible working arrangements.

Here in the Philippines, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. has tasked the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to bridge the digital divide and provide more opportunities for Filipinos to create wealth through participation in the digital economy.

In line with this, the DICT under the leadership of Secretary Ivan John Uy is prioritizing the deployment of digital connectivity and building of vital infrastructure to reach the underserved and unserved areas of the country.

For instance, the National Broadband Program aims to close the digital divide and elevate the Filipinos’ living standard by deploying broadband connectivity across the country through fiber optic cables and wireless technologies.

The construction of the International Cable Landing Stations in Baler, Aurora and in San Fernando, La Union; and the 250-km fiber conduit, which will carry the 2Tbps optical spectrum to DICT’s points of presence and Bases Conversion and Development Authority’s (BCDA) ecozones, was completed in 2020 and the keys of the landing and repeater stations have been handed over to DICT.

For the free Wi-Fi in public places, the target of DICT is to have a total of 5,951 free Wi-Fi sites in public places, which will now cover all 81 provinces including Metro Manila and 863 municipalities and cities, by the end of 2022. For 2023, additional 3,273 sites in public places will be established, spanning 81 provinces including Metro Manila and 1,034 municipalities and cities.

In order to reach remote areas that cannot be serviced by telcos, the DICT is tapping new technology like satellite connectivity, which is ideal for areas where internet connectivity is unreliable or completely unavailable.

Starlink, a satellite internet constellation operated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, is expected to roll out in the country before the end of the year. The company aims to have as many as 42,000 satellites to be able to deliver high-speed, low-cost internet to remote regions across the globe.

Starlink can provide 100 Mbps internet speed for the most remote areas. Through this, internet connectivity can reach Filipinos in remote areas and they can have access to education, health services, and online banking, among other digital needs.

These technologies help developing countries like the Philippines bridge not only the digital divide but also the urban-rural divide. They provide new opportunities to transform rural economies.

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