COMELEC deployed Broadband Global Area Networks (BGANs) and Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs)

Lone District of Iligan City
Chair, Committee on Civil Service & Professional Regulation
Vice-Chair, Information & Communications Technology Twitter: @freddiesiao 0917-729-2437

Tuwing automated elections nagagawan ng paraan na magka-internet access kahit mga liblib na lugar


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In the automated elections since 2010, the COMELEC deployed Broadband Global Area Networks (BGANs) and Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs) to fill in many gaps in the internet signal coverage nationwide. I suggest we deploy these equipment and accompanying devices again but this time, to make online learning work for over 32 million students and the 900,000-strong Department of Education.

The common tower policy should have improved telecom signal coverage and quality but its implementation has encountered difficulties. While concerned officials get their acts together on the common tower policy and place the interests of consumers above their own, I recommend to the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, and TESDA that they quickly draw lessons from past use of BGANs and VSATs. At the same time, the education agencies may prioritize studying and gathering more information on these while coordinating with DICT and NTC.

In a targeted way, BGANs can boost signals in areas where and when signals are weak, where there are blind spots, and where the cell towers are overwhelmed by high traffic volume. VSATs can be deployed to islands, foothills, mountain slopes, and other remote areas.

With the slow implementation of the common tower policy, lack of a national broadband backbone, and long-term nature of the laying of submarine telecom cables, these BGANs and VSATs are the rapid deployment solutions.

The education agencies simply have to meet the telecom and internet services providers on the technical and financial feasibility of how the BGANs and VSATs CAN materially improve internet access and quality.

Civil society experts can also weigh in to serve as counterbalancers to private sector profit motives out there and government sector likelihood of graft and corruption.

Mobile apps developers can also help the education agencies develop online and mobile learning materials considering how most of our students today are natives of the digital world. The apps creators can also produce tools for teachers, school managers, and parents.

Given the necessity of online communications and online learning, BGANs and VSATs should no longer be considered luxury equipment, but essential equipment.

The education agencies should work with DICT and NTC on providing the needed policies. The education agencies ought to consult the technical experts of COMELEC on the use of these equipment in past elections. For the long term, we need that long delayed national broadband network and should have more companies enter the telecoms and internet service sectors. Our growing population of 109 million people and hundreds of thousands of businesses make for sufficient national economies of scale.

Lastly, the education agencies also have to consult the security agencies on how the BGANs and VSATs must not fall into the hands of criminals, insurgents, private armies, and terrorists. (END)

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