Facebook to help put up ultra-fast internet in Luzon
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - November 16, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) signed a landing party agreement with Facebook, which would be called the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure to improve speed and accessibility, as well as reduce the cost of broadband internet in the country.

DICT officer-in-charge Eliseo Rio Jr. said the agreement include the construction of an ultra high speed information highway that will greatly improve the speed, affordability and accessibility of broadband internet throughout the country.

Under the agreement, BCDA will build the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure project consisting of two cable landing stations connected by 250-kilometer long cable network corridor at a cost of around P975 million.

Facebook, meanwhile, will construct and operate a submarine cable system that will land in the cable stations in Baler, Aurora and Poro Point, San Fernando, La Union on the western part.

“The cable will provide direct connections from Luzon to internet hubs in the US and Asia,” Rio said.

The DICT, for its part, will operate and maintain the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure and related facilities, as well as provide last mile connectivity in the Philippines.

“In exchange for utilizing the bypass infrastructure, Facebook will provide the government with spectrum equivalent to at least two million Mbps, significantly expanding the capacity available for the government’s connectivity programs,” Rio said.

He said the capacity is almost equal to the current combined capacity of telcos PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom Inc., allowing the government to act like a third player.

“This project is an integral part of the National Broadband Plan which will enable the government to significantly reduce the cost of the government’s internet cost and improve internet speed,” he said.

Through the project, the DICT expects ease in implementation of the Free Public WiFi program which aims to cover around 250,000 sites.

The project is also expected to make it easier to implement the National Government Portal which should serve as the one-stop gateway for all online government content and transactions.

“With this signing, it signals the start of procurement and construction process until early 2019. With this signing, the real hard work starts. It will be operational from 2019 until 2044 with the DICT at the helm,” Rio said.

BCDA president and chief executive officer Vivencio Dizon said the project is a game-changer for the country.

“It is the first step in improving the quality of internet in the country,” he said.

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