REIINN: This DOST project connects rural, far-flung areas to online world

Published December 9, 2021, 1:00 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has highlighted the importance of having a reliable information infrastructure to connect those unserved, underserved, and geographically disadvantaged areas in the country to the online world.

Community Cellular Networks established in San Luis, Aurora Province under the Village Base Station project (VBTS). (Courtesy of VBTS, CHED-PCARI/DOST-PCIEERD)

With this, the Department of Science and Technology-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI) pushed through with the implementation of project Resilient Education Information Infrastructure for the New Normal or Project REIINN.

Through this project, rural areas will be connected to the online world through community cellular networks (CCNs), the DOST’S Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) said in a statement.

It described CCNs as community-operated, small-scale network infrastructure which addresses local connectivity needs.

“It is gaining traction as an emerging alternative strategy in addressing the connectivity gap, by utilizing a “bottom-up” approach in providing connectivity to unserved, underserved, and geographically disadvantaged areas,” it said.

The Innovation Council said Project REIINN builds upon the gains of the Village Base Station project or VBTS which was behind the deployment of CCNs in the country.

It noted that the VBTS project benefited seven rural areas in the province of Aurora. Under the project, the areas were given voice and SMS communication services using 2G GSM cellular technology.

“To provide an appropriate technology in response to the need for data and internet access, the LokaLTE or Local LTE team of Project REINN will be conducting trial deployments of locally developed LTE cell sites in two rural areas in the Philippines,”

The DOST-PCIEERD said the trial deployment will be the first LTE community network in the country and will allow researchers to study how the introduction of internet services through LTE impact service provision and subscriber behavior, among others.

It said the RuralCasting team of Project REIINN zeroed in on exploring the data casting feature of ISDB-T, the Digital TV standard adopted by the Philippines, to enrich the remote learning experience of students.

“Through datacasting-capable Digital TV receivers, educational materials could be delivered to students residing in areas with weak internet infrastructure. LokaLTE and RuralCasting complement each other to provide a way for Filipinos to be better equipped in facing the challenges of the new normal.”

DOST-PCIEERD Executive Director Enrico Paringit drummed up support for the initiative that seeks to enhance the internet connectivity of GIDAs and bridge the digital divide.

“Project REIINN is a prime example of what innovation can do for the people and we will continue in supporting science-based solutions,” he said.