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Government broadband plan seen to realize faster data speeds

Digital influencer Janette Toral shares her optimism on the broadband plan of the Department of Information and Communications Technology. Under the plan, the government will be the one to put up the Internet fiber network infrastructure and this will be rented out to telecommunications companies. Carlo S. Lorenciana

CEBU, Philippines - The present administration's envisioned national broadband project is a good sign for realizing faster Internet speeds in the Philippines.

In an interview yesterday with reporters, Janette Toral, a Filipino e-commerce advocate and digital influencer welcomed the broadband plan by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

DICT earlier targeted to submit the detailed plan for the national broadband project to President Rodrigo Duterte early this year.

Under the plan, Toral said the government will be the one to put up the Internet fiber network infrastructure and this will be rented out to telecommunications companies. 

"Presently ang private sector yung nag-iinvest sa infrastructure but this administration plans to install fiber network at yung telcos ang mag-rerent ng fiber network. That's part of the broadband plan," the e-commerce advocate explained.

The physical infrastructure is also eyed by the government to reach parts of the countryside not serviced by commercial telco firms.

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Toral expressed hope that the national broadband plan will be rolled out by 2018 – at most – since talks have already started. 

She also hoped that the project will be bid out within this year. 

Earlier reports quoted DICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima as saying that the agency had submitted to the Office of the President last Oct. 3 a proposal detailing three options for the national broadband network.

The first option is putting up a purely physical infrastructure in the countryside, where telco services will be needed; the hybrid option two; and the third option is for the government to become a third-party operator.

The DICT earlier estimated that it targets to complete the implementation of the broadband plan in three years.

The national broadband project, which is deemed by DICT as one of its priorities, is the government’s latest attempt for a broadband plan since the $329.5-million National Broadband Network deal with China’s state-owned Zhong Xing Telecommunications (ZTE) Corp., which was abandoned in 2007 due to a corruption scandal.

The project could cost between P77 billion to P200 billion, based on earlier reports, should the present government push through the broadband network project.

Toral said the national broadband plan is seen to address the clamor for faster Internet in the country which has been known as one of the world’s slowest.

The 2015 Global Net Index of Internet metrics software-maker Ookla ranked the Philippines 176th out of 202 countries in terms of broadband speed, averaging just 3.64 megabytes per second (mbps) -- around a sixth of the 23.3 mbps global average.

The Philippines' Internet service is also deemed one of the most expensive in the world, averaging at $18 (P840)/mbps compared to the global average of $5 (P230)/mbps. (FREEMAN)

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