Oct 11 2023

DICT’s National Broadband Project Transforms Northern Luzon With 438 Satellite Broadband Sites

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) in the Philippines has successfully collaborated with internet service provider Stellarsat Solutions Inc. and its partner Kacific Broadband Satellites to achieve a key milestone in its effort to provide equitable broadband connectivity across the country, under a National Broadband Plan.

This transformative project, integral to DICT’s mission of bridging the digital divide in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA), involved connecting 438 sites across the North Luzon provinces of Benguet, Kalinga, Ifugao, Ilocos Norte, Quezon, and Pangasinan. The work was completed in just 30 days and marked the largest VSAT installation and activation in the Philippines.

Northern Luzon locals can now enjoy a wide range of essential digital services without the need to travel for hours
to get online

Despite significant advancements in digital connectivity, the Philippines still grapples with the digital divide, with 65% of Filipinos lacking access to the internet. To address this issue, the DICT embarked on a mission to connect every barangay in the country. As a part of the government’s executive branch, the DICT is committed to providing every Filipino access to vital ICT infrastructures and services while also ensuring the sustainable growth of ICT-enabled industries that can lead to the creation of more jobs.

This achievement highlights both DICT’s commitment to digital transformation in GIDA regions and the role of Stellarsat Solutions Inc. in overseeing the deployment and connection of satellite terminals with the support and expertise of Kacific. Residents in Northern Luzon can now readily access essential digital services via high-speed broadband.

DICT Secretary Ivan Uy, on-ground at North Luzon, spoke to installers and communities about the role of satellite
technology and its importance in achieving better connectivity and digital inclusivity in GIDA.

By providing high-speed internet connectivity to Northern Luzon, this project equips the region’s micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with the tools to participate in the thriving e-commerce landscape. Improved connectivity also fosters e-commerce transactions, e-retail growth, and the development of digital payment systems. Furthermore, it opens online education and remote work opportunities, transforming remote areas into digital communication hubs. These connections also extend to essential services, like better healthcare and emergency management.

The involvement of the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC), an attached agency of the DICT, was critical in ensuring the security and quality of the installation sites. As the entity responsible for all functions related to cybersecurity, the CICC conducted security assessments, working alongside DICT Secretary Ivan Uy during site inspections. The CICC also took charge of coordinating the deployment of VSATs, ensuring strict adherence to industry standards. The CICC also evaluated opportunities to initiate educational outreach programs in these GIDA areas when accompanying DICT Secretary Ivan Uy during the site inspection.

DICT Undersecretary Alexander Ramos and Secretary Ivan Uy ensuring project success through thorough
site inspections.

The Kacific1 satellite, with its 56 powerful high-throughput spot beams, is a key infrastructure for addressing bandwidth needs in rural and remote areas and delivering broadband service, bridging the digital divide, and improving the lives of unserved and underserved communities required close collaboration among the DICT, CICC, Kacific, Stellarsat and its installers in each province. Fifteen installation teams, comprising 200 workers and Kacific Distributors, overcame the typhoon season and the archipelagic nature of the Philippines to coordinate seamlessly in real-time. These distributors, understanding the connectivity needs of their local communities, actively contributed to fostering digital inclusivity.

DICT advances its mission of introducing more digital transformation initiatives in GIDA by utilizing Kacific’s
satellite terminals

“One big challenge in connecting the Philippines is our geographic location and the nature of our archipelago. Connecting all the scattered islands remains a challenge, and the digital divide is still pronounced, especially in GIDA, “says DICT Secretary Ivan Uy. “Access to the internet opens a world of opportunities for locals in those areas. With reliable and affordable broadband internet, Filipinos in Northern Luzon province can access not only the Philippines but the entire world, capitalizing on the benefits of the digital era.”

“Kacific understands that a business like ours can be a powerful force for good. This aligns with our efforts of achieving Environmental and Social Goals (ESG), which has been recognized through multiple ESG awards, including the recent Euroconsult award for Universal Broadband,” says Christian Patouraux, Kacific CEO. “While the journey is far from over, the digital divide in the Philippines gets smaller with each connection made. It has been an honour for us to collaborate with the DICT on this mission to shape a future where connectivity knows no bounds and all Filipinos can utilize the Internet to its full potential.”