Giant leap in ICT infra makes people more connected in 2021

By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz

December 31, 2021, 5:27 pm

<p><em>(Anadolu photo)</em></p>

(Anadolu photo)

MANILA – The Philippines, including some of the remotest parts of the country, are now more connected through giant leaps in information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure through the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), its partners in the government, and the private sector.

Under the office of former DICT Secretary Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II, who resigned from his post in October to run for senator in the 2022 elections, the average broadband and mobile internet speeds in the country made massive improvements.

Based on the latest global internet speed index by Ookla, the average download speed for fixed broadband in the Philippines is currently 46.44 Megabits per second (Mbps) and the average download speed for mobile is 18.68 Mbps.

These, compared to an average broadband download speed of 7.92 Mbps for broadband and 7.44 Mbps for mobile in July 2016.

To date, Ookla ranks the Philippines 72nd out of 181 countries in its global fixed broadband internet speed index and 90th out of 134 countries in its mobile internet speed rankings.

“Connectivity, which includes access to data and information, is now classified as a right, just like food, clothing, shelter, and health services,” Honasan said.

The DICT, currently helmed by Acting Secretary Emmanuel Rey Caintic, has also made great strides in ICT development in the far reaches of the country through its “Free Wi-Fi for All” program.

“We will continue to build on the accomplishments of the department in driving digital transformation in the country. Our marching orders remain the same—to connect all Filipinos to the benefits of the digital economy, wherever they are in the country,” Caintic said.

As of October 1, there are now 11,203 free Wi-Fi sites throughout the country after having boosted its rollout rate from about 800 sites a year from 2016 to 2019 to a total of 4,305 sites in 2020 alone.

To complement the joint memorandum circular led by the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) which streamlines the issuance of necessary clearances for building common towers, the DICT has launched the “Digital Infrastructure Monitoring System: Tower Watch PH” in September.

The initiative aims to ease the regulatory burdens on the construction of ICT infrastructure in the country.

On June 28, 2021, the DICT entered into a memorandum of agreement with the University of the Philippines – Technology Management Center (UP-TMC) which provided scholarships to 1000 government employees under the government chief information officer master’s program.

The Center for Global ICT Training, Certification, and Recognition Center was established to provide training and industry-level certifications and is seen to be integrated as part of the ICT Academy that will take charge of the DICT’s capacity and capability development programs.

A total of 4,745 Tech4Ed centers—meant to provide opportunities in the digital economy to marginalized sectors—have also been established by DICT since the program’s inception.

As part of the national government’s Covid-19 response, the DICT joined several inter-agency initiatives that led to the operations of the Vaccine Information Management System that serves as the key processing and analytics systems for Covid-19 vaccinations as well as the DICT Vaccine Administration System (D-VAS).

The DICT also spearheaded the development of the VaxCertPH portal that allows for the issuance of digital and uniform Covid-19 vaccine certifications. (PNA)