During this pandemic, the country has relied heavily on internet connectivity to operate, especially for the education sector. Though this is the case, many are still without stable broadband connections, specifically those living in rural areas. 

To address this lack of internet for hard-to-reach places, the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) is launching a new initiative that will provide viable broadband connections for people in remote areas. 

PhilSA Space Business Development Division Chief Agnes Bonafe said it can be accomplished through new satellite system technologies. 

“There is a need to offer viable options for effective broadband connectivity in rural areas of the country. We believe that the advent of new satellite systems can help, and we would like to be able to try out their new technologies in the local setting, especially in rural and remote areas,” she shared on Tuesday during a virtual press conference. 

The project, which will be called ‘Incentivise,’ will call on Satellite Internet Operators (SIOs) to conduct test operations in delegated rural sites, allowing their service’s capabilities to be fully demonstrated and assessed ahead of planned or scheduled commercial service.

“The difference of satellite broadband with fiber connectivity is that it exhibits a wide coverage, allowing connectivity to reach the rural areas. They are not competing technologies, but they should be seen as complementary technologies,” Bonafe said.

The program will strictly adhere to EO 127 (Expanding the Provision of Internet Services through Inclusive Access to Satellite Services) and will offer additional options for satellite communications to the local market, fostering competition. 

According to Bonafe, Incentivise will help in the evaluation of SIOs in the Philippines, specifically how they perform locally. 

“Incentivise will help us assess their (SIOs) performance in the Philippines and determine their performance in the local setting or under local conditions,” she stressed. She noted that the project will give priority to remote communities that are in need of internet connection. 

The companies the program will target are those operating satellites in the so-called Non-Geostationary Orbit (NGSO), which includes OneWeb, Starlink, and SES O3B MEO.

PhilSA will be tasked to facilitate the entry of these NGSO. The agency will be responsible for assessing the performance of these internet satellite providers under local environmental conditions, such as heavy rains, power interruptions, and outages.

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Image credit: NASA