The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) presented the Philippine National ICT Ecosystem Framework (NIEF) in its participation in the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF) 2018 on 13-16 August at Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Co-developed with with the Internet Society (ISOC), the NIEF serves as the Philippine digital roadmap that aims to advance the national ICT agenda in all of the country’s plans, programs and projects. It uses a multi-stakeholder approach which gathers inputs from various sectors of the society such as health, education, transportation, governance, and connectivity.

The DICT noted the challenges on last mile connectivity for countryside development being partially due to market forces and the technological requirements of spectrum audit. Audit is necessary for the reassignment of spectrum for rural and community networks which can, in turn, serve as complement to existing infostructure built and operated by private telecoms companies to reach unserved and underserved areas.

With the theme “Empowering Communities in Asia Pacific to Build an Affordable, Inclusive, Open and Secure Internet,” the APrIGF 2018 gathered the key leaders and stakeholders of different Asia Pacific countries to share their best practices and tackle the current issues related to eGovernance such as the gender and digital divide, digital trade, censorship, cybersecurity and data privacy.

It was also noted in the APrIGF 2018 that there is an undeniable need to connect innovation hubs that can be done by building community networks through the use of new and emerging technologies such as the TV White Space (TVWS), a technology that utilizes unused TV frequency bands for mobile broadband deployment.

For the duration of the conference, a remote participation hub was set-up in Quezon City by DICT in cooperation with ISOC Philippine Chapter and Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) as a venue for local stakeholders to gather and hold in-country discussions synthesizing topics from APrIGF 2018. Representatives from civil society, academe, technical communities and the government were present in the Philippine hub.

With the DICT Vision 2020 of making the benefits of Internet be felt by the Filipino citizens, by building community networks as models of inclusive internet infrastructure, a wide array of opportunities awaits.