Church connects far-flung villages, schools to the world

By Chris Panganiban

September 18 2017, 8:34 pm

BAYUGAN CITY— A thriving Christian denomination here has established its own wireless internet broadband service, not to lure more members in its flock, but to connect the far-flung communities and schools to the world.

To propagate its state-of-the art global Airmax network, the A2wiser Broadband Corporation operated by the United Pentecostal Church (UPC) in this city has already tapped at least five public schools that benefits mostly junior and high school students who are now enjoying fast internet connections in their school campus and in their electronic libraries.

Interestingly, the wireless internet service was first introduced in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao a few months before the infamous Mamasapano massacre on January 25, 2015 . The unstable peace and order situation in the area prompted the company to pull out and transfer it to this city.

Bayugan City Senior High School, located some five kilometers from the city proper, was the recent beneficiary of the project when three new desktop computers were activated at their e-library during the inauguration rites over the weekend.

Jessie Esmad, school principal, said availability of internet connection in their new e-library would be helpful on the research studies of the students who can access it anytime, considering that the school does not have enough textbooks to cater to about 1,069 students.

 "It is convenient since students would no longer commute to the city to do research work,” Esma said. The three new computers provided by A2wiser to the e-library included printers for students to print their research works with a minimal fee of P5 per page.

 Pastor Jocim Galos, A2wiser chief operation officer, said they will set up internet kiosks in the beneficiary-schools furnished with tablet mobile phones and PCs to augment the services of the e-library.

A2wider is also selling internet cards to students and teachers with an affordable rate at P5 per hour so that they could also access internet on their own mobile phones and laptops.

As part of their corporate social responsibility, five percent of the profits gained from monthly internet bills and internet cards will go to the funds of Parent-Teacher Association and student government bodies.

 Esmad said more PCs allocated for their school from the central office of the Department of Education will be coming and will be connected to the Internet to complete the computer sets needed at the e-library.

Except for Bayugan Comprehensive National High School, other schools, mostly located outside of the heart of the city which are already connected with A2wiser internet, are Marcelina National High School, Salvacion National High School and Noli National High School.

 Galos said their company is bent on covering the entire 68 schools in the city within this year and hopes that could cover the entire Caraga region in the next five years.

According to Diomedes Hinacay, network administrator, A2wiser has invested P3 million to set up its state-of-the-art equipment and its towers erected in the schools using the Airmax network technology or what techies would describe as the global standard for last mile connectivity which already connected hundreds of millions of people even in the remote areas of the world. 

Hinacay said they are tapping the internet services of major telecommunication networks like Globe, Bayantel, PLDT , and Smart that subscribers are assured of uninterrupted internet connection since they could transfer to another network when one would be down.

A2wiser is working on its expansion activities as they are assured of another P5 million loan capital from retired Deputy Police Director General Chief Superintendent Geary Barias, who is now chief security and boad of director of Platinum Group Metals Corporation in Claver, Surigao del Norte.

Barias who was guest of honor during the launching event lauded the efforts of the church leaders saying the company guided by the blessings of God could go a long way.” What man proposes, God will definitely dispose,” Barias said in his speech.

Rene Rojas, a pioneer in the establishment of the company, said A2wiser was established as a crusade of UPC to build more churches in the hinterland communities , provide internet services to the lumads at affordable cost and send more scholars to Bible colleges. (PNA/Chris V. Panganiban)