THE Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said it has entered into a partnership with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and private service providers to conduct a pilot test of satellite internet systems in remote parts of the country.

The PCCI said there will be six test areas, which have yet to be selected.  

“(The partnership) agreed that the satellite project should not only benefit micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) but more so the local government units (LGUs), local clinics, and public schools. Multiple sectors can likewise experience dramatic impacts, such as agriculture, finance, tourism, and telehealth,” the PCCI said in a statement.

PCCI President George T. Barcelon said connectivity is a basic requirement for any economic recovery, and could be a tool for attracting more tourism and investment.  

“As we transition out of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, remote work and internet-enabled services in education, health, trade and supply chain management and even government services could remain the norm where possible. In this regard, we need to scale up our digital infrastructure,” Mr. Barcelon said.

DICT Undersecretary Jose Arturo C. de Castro said the government is building so-called digital highways to boost economic activity.

“Because of our topography, internet over satellite is one of the best and fastest ways for us to leapfrog into the future of digital connectivity,” Mr. De Castro said.

According to a 2019 national survey by the DICT, 88% of barangays do not have access to free Wi-Fi, 60% have no cellular towers, and 60% have no access to fiber optic cable.  — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave