Solon recommends use of satellite internet devices to aid online learning
ILIGAN CITY (5 June 2020) – Iligan City Lone District Rep. Frederick W. Siao has suggested using Broadband Global Area Networks (BGANs) and Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs) for the online learning of Filipino students amid the public health crisis. In a statement released by the congressman's office on Thursday, Siao made the recommendation as Vice Chairperson of the House Committee on Information and Communications Technology.
“I suggest we deploy these equipment and accompanying devices again, but this time, to make online learning work for over 32 million students and the 900,000-strong Department of Education,” he said. BGANs and VSATs are satellite internet devices that make use of portable terminals. They are normally used as alternative devices for connecting to the internet in places that cannot be reached by internet providers. These devices have been used by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in the past, particularly in transmitting poll results from national elections.
Since the common tower policy of the government, a project that would allow telecommunications networks to utilize the same towers making services faster and cheaper, has encountered delays due to technical difficulties, Siao said that “BGANs and VSATs are the rapid deployment solutions.” “While concerned officials get their acts together on the common tower policy and place the interests of consumers above their own, I recommend to the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, and TESDA that they quickly draw lessons from past use of BGANs and VSATs. At the same time, the education agencies may prioritize studying and gathering more information on these while coordinating with DICT and NTC,” he added. He also noted that mobile app developers can collaborate with education agencies in developing online and mobile learning materials that can be used by students, teachers, school managers, and parents. Recognizing the possible dangers of abusing the internet devices, Siao added that “education agencies also have to consult the security agencies on how the BGANs and VSATs must not fall into the hands of criminals, insurgents, private armies, and terrorists.” Given the necessity of online communications and online learning, Siao stressed that “BGANs and VSATs should no longer be considered luxury, but essential equipment.”