Free Internet Access, Tech4ED Plans In Nueva Ecija – DICT

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is the most recent addition to the Philippine government’s executive departments.

Fairly a new department (established only in 2016), the DICT faces the daunting task of modernizing and making information and communications technology (ICT) readily available and affordable to every Filipino.

Philippines being the world’s top social media user, it is up to the DICT to ensure universal access to quality, affordable, reliable and secure ICT services all over the country.

In Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, the DICT will soon start its operation at the Palayan City Business Hub (PCBH).

According to Information Technology 1 Officer Marie Sinag Abello, Provincial Team Leader of DICT Nueva Ecija, they are presently holding office in Cabanatuan City, but decided to transfer to PCBH after being told that the Cabanatuan office is scheduled to be renovated.

Their new office at the PCBH will soon be the main office of Nueva Ecija which will cater to the Internet modernization of whole province.

When asked about the main task of DICT in Nueva Ecija, Abello said that they have a lot of projects scheduled to be implemented in the province.

Among the projects in store for the people of Nueva Ecija are the following:

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Tech4ED
  • Electronic Business Permits and Licensing System
  • National Broadband Plan
  • Regional Government Internet

With respect to the free Wi-Fi, Abello explained that the DICT aims to provide free broadband Internet to Nueva Ecija through Pipol Konek, a project of the DICT which started last June 23, 2017.

Pipol Konek is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia in terms of scope which is nationwide in coverage with 18 points of presence (PoP) across the country.

According to the Pipol Konek website, the free Wi-Fi coverage under the FWPP is expected to reach an estimated 100,349 public places nationwide.

Another project, which has already been initiated by the DICT in Nueva Ecija, is the Tech4ED. Abello said her office will continue in PCBH what they have started in their Cabanatuan City. The DICT website explains that the “Tech4ED project provides access points for individuals and communities to bridge the digital and education divide. It promotes grassroots development and opportunities for inclusive growth and poverty reduction. It will give communities access to information, communication, technology, government services, non-formal education, skills training, telehealth, job markets, and business portals.”

Tech4ED stands for Technology for Education, to gain Employment, train Entrepreneurs towards Economic Development.

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Another venture which DICT-Nueva Ecija would like to implement is the “electronic business permits and licensing system”. According to Abello, they aim to provide local government units (LGUs) with this electronic business permits and licensing system so that the local government can use this software to automate the operation of its business permits section and other departments which need to be computerized for a better and efficient service to the Nueva Ecija residents.

A national broadband plan is also in the works for the whole province of Nueva Ecija, added Abello. According to the National Broadband Plan, the Philippine government, in its desire to accelerate the deployment of fiber optic cables and wireless technologies, and improve the overall Internet speed and affordability all over the country, particularly in remote areas, developed the NBP.

The NBP, which addresses the clamor for universal, faster and affordable Internet Access has three major broad strategies, namely: 1) establishment of policy and regulatory reforms; 2) government investment in broadband infrastructure; and 3) support for the stimulation of broadband demand.

In essence, Abello said that the NBP is the blueprint in building infrastructures for a digital nation.

“Sa ngayon, ‘yung sa secure GovNet ‘yung sa infra, ongoing na ‘yan; Iyong regional GovNet natin [is] in the Science City of Muñoz.”

Abello explained that that the GovNet was positioned in the Science City of Muñoz because there are a lot of national government agencies operating in the area.

“Yung Tech4ED ongoing na siya. Maraming LGU na o mga bayan na may Tech4ED sa Nueva Ecija. May mga LGU na rin tayo na under na rin sa Pipol Konek natin,” Abello said.

She, however, expressed that her office might have a hard time implementing these projects since she only has three staff at present. “We only have three employees now… I would like to believe that in the near future, we will have enough employees so that we can fully carry out our duties here at DICT.”

Abello also explained that they plan to start a Digital Literacy Program and will conduct training for LGUs who will request for their service. “We will carry out the training and basic literacy programs so that deserving Nueva Ecija residents will learn basic computer. She added that her group is also planning to propose a project called Rural Impact Sourcing, which will stimulate the economy of Palayan City, Nueva Ecija and neighboring cities and provinces.

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“We’re trying to propose another project na tinatawag namin na Rural Impact Sourcing. We’re advocating online work para hindi na sila magpunta doon sa mga metropolis, so para lang ma-liven up at para maging robust lang iyong economic development nila. We’re trying to create jobs, pero ang avenue nila is online work.”

Lastly, Abello hopes that their office can be of service to the Novo Ecijanos and to residents of nearby provinces who need ICT-related services. She explained that aside from their main duty as a training center for computer-related issues, their office will readily help people in need of computer services such as scheduling appointment for the government offices, which are located at the One-Stop Service for OFWs (OSSCO) Palayan at the PCBH.

“Although our service is more on the training side, should the people need our assistance for other services, we will gladly facilitate and help them.”

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