Gatchalian bats for satellite-based internet technology in PH

Reelectionist Senator Sherwin Gatchalian vowed to pursue the enactment of his measure to develop satellite-based internet technology in the country and expand the powers of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to ensure universal access to the web.

Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Basic Education Committee, has filed Senate Bill (SB) 2250, or the proposed Satellite-Based Technologies for Internet Connectivity Act of 2021, because of the lack of broadband infrastructure in the country especially in far-flung islands and mountainous areas with low-population density and limited access to electricity.

The DICT has recently expressed support to early preparatory efforts to establish satellite-based internet connectivity in the Philippines and is now in the process of coordinating with several government agencies such as the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) for the conduct of tests.

Under Gatchalian’s bill, the DICT will be mandated to identify areas that are underserved and unserved by traditional broadband network operators and where the use of satellite-based internet can be maximized.

The DICT shall likewise be made to issue rules and regulations on the development, use, and maintenance of satellite-based technology, and exercise regulatory and administrative jurisdiction over internet service providers (ISPs) and satellite policies.

Some of the powers of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) will be transferred to the DICT to expedite the processing of permits of local or foreign-owned ISPs.

“Ensuring connectivity, even those in remote areas, would provide the needed boost to the government’s digital transformation. It will enhance delivery of government services, support online learning for the education sector, and enable micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the countryside to be more productive,” Gatchalian said.