February 29, 2024

Gov’t mulls ties with Pacific countries for cyber security

PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. met with Kacific Broadband Satellites executives in Malacañang on Tuesday on the prospects of beefing up digital connectivity and cyber security in the country.

In the meeting with the Kacific executives, President Marcos emphasized the need for the Philippines to catch up with its Asian neighbors in terms of connectivity.

The Kacific officials led by founder and CEO Christian Patouraux with Broadband Satellites Business Development Officer Brandon Seir met with the President to discuss the company’s forthcoming launching of its satellite project.

During the meeting, President Marcos said Kacific’s satellites is an improvement on what the country now operates, noting he wants a more permanent one in order for the country to catch up with its peers in the long term.

“It’s just an improvement on what we have now. Make it more permanent. But this is not, this is on [the] long term. We have to keep up. We are always looking for additional capability when it comes to all this communications especially with the problems of cyber security,” he said.

He directed Information and Communications Secretary Ivan Uy and Science and Technology Secretary Renato Solidum, who were both present during the meeting, to continue with the talks with Kacific to determine the specific terms on how the company can boost the country’s digital capability.

“It’s really the capability that the Philippines really need … So yes, let’s set it up and let’s see what’s the specifics… so that we can see how this can fit us, this new system,” the President said.

Kacific, a broadband satellite operator based in Singapore, targets to launch the Kacific2 to add capacity to its existing satellite, the Kacific1. The project aims to provide affordable and reliable Internet service to the public.

According to the National Development Co. (NDC), it is studying to invest in the project through the acquisition of frequency block, including the naming rights of the broadband satellite; partnership with a local company on the roll-out of the broadband satellite from the Kacific2 to rural areas; and purchase of Kacific Broadband Satellites equity.

Secretary Uy said the project could benefit the Philippines with additional bandwidth provided by the Kacific2 satellite to help the economy through the propagation of the digital economy.

In a report released by the World Bank in 2020, the share of the value added of the digital economy to the gross domestic product (GDP), in constant prices, grew from 7 percent in 2012 to over 10 percent in 2018.

The increase in Internet coverage entails significant opportunities to remote areas for online classes and work-from-home individuals. In addition, it could also provide access to e-services such as e-health initiatives and disaster management and control.

At the same time, the broadband services offered by Kacific2 could enable government-to-government communications from specific central offices to remote constituents and also support the existing government initiatives that promote better Internet connectivity such as Free WiFi For all Program, the National Broadband Program, and the eGOV PH super app.

Kacific Broadband Satellites, founded by Mr. Christian Patouraux in 2013, aims to provide reliable, fast, and low-cost satellite Internet to homes, businesses, and public agencies across Asia Pacific. It also gives the government an opportunity to own their satellite.

In December 2019, the company launched Kacific1, a High Throughput Satellite (HTS) seeking to provide high-speed, low-cost, and reliable broadband to rural and suburban areas of the Pacific and Southeast Asia.

Kacific1 caters to areas in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Indonesia, Kiribati, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

In terms of Internet speed, a report released by Speedtest Global Index in June 2023, showed the Philippines has a median download speed of 92.84 Megabits per second (Mbps) for fixed broadband and 26.98 Mbps for mobile broadband.

Moreover, the country ranks 47th out of 180 countries for fixed broadband, and 83rd among 140 countries for mobile broadband. Compared to other countries in Southeast Asia, the Philippines ranks 5th in fixed broadband and 7th in mobile broadband.