DICT favors use of internet café as “digital classrooms”; 3 rd Telco player on track despite ECQ

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MANILA—If they have their way, the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) will use thousands of internet cafés in the country as alternative “digital classrooms” for students.

This was bared by DICT Undersecretary Eliseo Rio during his live radio-TV interview monitored by Sandigan News and Banat Pilipinas News, Thursday, when asked about the news that some school classes might be done at home through the internet due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some stakeholders in the education sector suggested that if school opening for school year 2020-21 is not yet certain, students might as well study at home and do their classes virtually with their computer and internet.  Moreover, the use of the internet and other information platforms at home or in a common place augurs well with the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) guidelines of “staying at home” and “working from home.”

USec. Rio said the department is seriously looking into the possibility of using commercial internet hubs as digital classrooms because not all families can afford to buy computers, smart phones or have internet connection.

“Ang tanong lang ay marami na ring mga internet cafés na close dahil sa mahal ng kagamitan, stiff ang competition, at ang price of connectivity.  Kaya we are working on lowering the cost of connection and supporting and tapping small Internet Service Providers (ISP) to participate.” Rio said.

He promised that DICT will support the plan of the DepEd as regards information technology for education is concerned noting that major Telco operators have already improved their services lately.  “Medyo may improvement na rin sa services ng dalawang major Telcos natin.  Dahil marahil ito sa pagpasok ng third Telco player”, Rio further said.

USec. Rio was referring to the Dito Telecommunity Corporation, formerly known as Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company, Inc., which was granted franchise to provide at least 27mbps internet signal speed to subscribers.

He said that the department has not received any request for change in the timeframe of their work plan even with the surge of Covid-19 pandemic in the country.  “I think they are on track of their commitment to provide better internet services and experience to Filipino users,” Rio further said.

Dito Telecommunity Corporation is set to have a measurement of their signal speed done by an independent technical team on July 8, 2020.  Meanwhile, its commercial operations, barring any impediment will be in March 2021.

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