October 30, 2009

Internet cafés unite to improve services

There is strength in numbers, a concept leveraged by almost 100 internet café owners and operators who have recently decided to organize themselves into a single national federation to improve their quality of service and harmonize their role in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry during a summit hosted by the Commission on ICT (CICT) last week at its office in Diliman, Quezon City.

According to CICT Secretary Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua, “Internet cafés are reaching more and more Filipinos and allowing them to access to the information superhighway. Their popularity shows the eagerness of Filipinos to use the Internet, and the CICT joins I-Café Pilipinas in looking for new ways to bridge the digital divide.”

The CICT gathered the officials and members of nine Internet café associations from all over the country in the first such summit to define their role as part of the ICT industry and develop action plans for improving the services provided by these small and medium enterprises.

For his part, CICT Commissioner Monchito Ibrahim said he hopes that, “ at the end of this summit, we will find ourselves on the road to creating a single umbrella association for all Internet café operators and allied businesses nationwide,” a statement that foreshadowed the action plan adopted at the end of the summit, a joint effort of national social advocacy network I-Café Pilipinas and the country's Internet café operators and associations.

Carrying the theme “Towards a Better Internet Café Industry in the Next Decade,” the summit's goal was to bring together the newborn Internet café sector, allied industries and concerned government agencies to discuss relevant issues affecting Internet café businesses and develop a unified program to integrate the sector an important part of the ICT industry.

The conference was divided into four themes, which informed participants about numerous government programs available to them and linked them up with related ICT businesses, like online gaming providers and IT hardware and software vendors. These themes were: 1) The Internet Café as Community Digital Business Centers; 2) The Internet Café as Centers of Entertainment and Communication; 3) The Internet Café as Centers for Education and Collaboration; and 4) The Internet Café Owners Quest for Continuous Knowledge.

The Internet café associations that participated in the summit were the Valenzuela Internet Café Association, Internet Café Association of Manila, Los Banos Computer Owners and Operators League, Internet Café Association of Tagum, Internet Café Association of Imus, San Juan Internet Café Association, Internet Café Association of Zambales, Internet Café Association of Dasmarinas and members of the Unified Lanshop Owners of the Philippines.

The event was supported by key partners such as Intel Technology Philippines, Bayan Business, Smart Communications and Cubenet Interactive. (Dateline Philippines)

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