Internet penetration rises to 35%
Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) - February 2, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration is looking at further increasing the country’s Internet penetration rate that improved to about 35 percent last year as more of the 95 million Filipinos now own at least a mobile phone.

Louis Casambre, undersecretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), said in a press conference that the agency’s Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) is planning to deploy a new wireless data communications standard called TV White Space (TVWS) technologies before June this year.

Casambre pointed out that the new technology would help address the “digital divide” wherein only 47 percent of cities and municipalities have broadband access and only 20 percent of the households have computers.

According to him, a significant portion of the population do not benefit from Internet access as only 33.6 million or 35 percent of the total 95 million Filipinos have access to Internet despite the fact that each Filipino owning at least one phone. This is an improvement from the Internet penetration rate of 29 percent in 2011.

“With the cost of computers and access devices going down significantly, connectivity is the issue that needs to be addressed. A good portion of our population lives in remote areas with no Internet or wired broadband Internet access infrastructure, essentially excluding them from the benefits and building capacity of the Internet,” he said.

As part of its mandate of Internet for all and bridging the digital divide, Casambre said the agency has started a program for the adoption of TVWS technology in the country through various applications such as rural broadband, educational content delivery, sensor networks, tele-health or tele-medicine, and connectivity for remote government offices.

“TVWS is an ideal wireless data delivery medium for the Philippines, with its long distance propagation characteristics and the ability of its signals to travel over water and through thick foliage, we are hopeful that this will be the technology to bring connectivity to rural areas and bridge the digital divide,” he added.

He added that TVWS is a precious national resource that needs to be utilized for the maximum benefit of the Filipinos.

DOST secretary Mario Montejo, for his part, said in a statement that TVWS technology could also support government initiatives other than providing Internet access in rural areas.

“Other than providing Internet access to rural areas, TVWS technologies can also be utilized to support government initiatives requiring data connectivity such as sensors used by project NOAH for disaster mitigation, thin clients for education currently being developed by ICTO for DepEd through the Cloud Top project, as well as for tele-health initiatives being done by the UP TeleHealth Center,” he said.

TVWS refers to unutilized television frequencies in the VHF and UHF bands. In 2010, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the use of TVWS for data communications.

ACCESS CASAMBRE CLOUD TOP DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY OFFICE INTERNET LOUIS CASAMBRE MARIO MONTEJO TVWS
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