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Win pushes satellite-based tech to boost PHL digital education

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SENATORS were asked over the weekend to frontload passage of a bill boosting digital education in public schools as soon as Congress reconvenes its regular session on July 26.

In filing Senate Bill 2250, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian moved to maximize use of satellite technology to “widen internet access nationwide” in rolling out digital technology in public schools, given the serious connectivity issues that hounded both teachers and students during the pandemic-induced lockdowns.

Gatchalian said SB 2250, to be known as “Satellite-Based Technologies for Internet Connectivity Act of 2021,” aims to “expand nationwide access to satellite-based technologies as an alternative connectivity solution to ensure universal access to the Internet.”

The senator suggested that while students have yet to return physically to school, it is timely to line up early preparations for promoting digital education throughout the country.

Gatchalian’s enabling legislation provides that government organizations, public and non-profit private institutions, and volunteer organizations engaged in education, health, finance, agriculture, environmental management, climate change management, disaster preparedness and crisis response be allowed to own and operate satellite-based technology to aid and augment their activities.

In order to provide internet services through satellite-based technologies, “especially in areas where it is expensive to roll out wired or mobile wireless networks,” a satellite is used to get internet signal from the internet service provider (ISP) to the user, he explained.

How it works:  “The ISP sends a wireless internet signal to a satellite in space, while the satellite dish is connected to the modem of the user, which then connects the user to the Internet.”

Gatchalian said the digital option bill complements the Public Education Network (PEN) which the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) aim to put up, assuring the public that “this initiative aims to fast-track the installation of digital connectivity in public schools and DepEd offices.”

He clarified that under the PEN, the DICT will augment future satellite capacity of the DepEd for students from Last Mile Schools to access digital education, noting that using  public schools as common tower sites is also part of the two agencies’ agreement.

Gatchalian recalled that a National ICT Household Survey in 2019—the year just before the Covid-19 pandemic that forced millions of students to be taught remotely amid serious connectivity issues—showed 82.3 percent of households do not have access to the internet. Also, a paper from The Asia Foundation pointed out that 74 percent of public schools remain unconnected to the Internet.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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