DICT’s free WiFi opens new online opportunities for Sulu folk
ZAMBOANGA CITY——-Residents in Sulu, especially those outside the capital town of Jolo, are used to going to elevated places to catch a telecom signal so they can call or send a text.
More so if they connect to the internet. This is why apps that require low bandwidth are more popular in the province, except for sharing of longer videos.
And email is resorted to only if highly necessary.
But this situation is beginning to be a thing of the past as the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has installed Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) facilities in strategic areas of the province to bring in free wifi signal for the people.
These have also been rolled out in the island provinces of Basilan and Tawi-Tawi.
Students who are in online classes will no longer cram internet shops and compete with each other for the limited computer units and available bandwidth.
According to Sonny Abing Jr., spokesperson of the Sulu provincial government, the DICT-installed wifi facility at the provincial capital runs at a speed of 10 megabytes per second.
“This is a great help for our workers, our students; they can now enjoy a certain degree of connectivity,” Abing told the Inquirer, noting how the province had been suffering for years from sluggish internet connection provided by the two dominant commercial telecommunications firms.
Abing said he expected the free internet access to also boost farmer’s chances of directly accessing the market and hence increase business and economic opportunities in the area.
“Definitely it will also improve communication, coordination, and transactions with local government units, particularly Jolo and other provinces,” Abing added.
Thanks to the good bandwidth of the free WiFi, journalists from the island provinces were able to join colleagues in other parts of the country in webinars and forums, for the first time.
Beyond civilian uses, the military also welcomed the availability of good WiFi services in the island provinces.
According to Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Mindanao Command, the VSAT-carried internet signal helps boost the morale of some 10,000 troops in the island provinces by making it easier to connect with their families.
“They will be able to have a better way to get in touch with their families,” Vinluan said of the impact on soldiers.
The military maintains 8,000 troops in Sulu which continues to be a hotspot in the campaign against Islamic State-linked terrorists.
Although more than 200 bandits have surrendered to authorities in the last two years, the Army has added a new battalion in the province to heighten the pressure on the Abu Sayyaf gunmen.
The rest of the 2,000 troops are spread in Basilan and Tawi-Tawi.
A lonely soldier does not have to risk his life obtaining a clear signal in order to send or see photos of his family, Vinluan said.
Easing the soldiers’ loneliness is vital to maintaining their morale in the fight against the terrorists, he added.
Vinluan further said that training and information exchange will be boosted by the availability of a good internet signal.
“Communication is vital in the conduct of military operations. Poor communication has been one of the obstructions in the execution of deliberate operations in the province of Sulu,” Vinluan said.
“Miscommunication will be prevented especially during critical situations,” he added.