The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has proposed a budget of US$372.1 million (P18 billion) for the National Broadband Program to help improve the country’s Internet connectivity.
While Internet speed in the country has improved in recent years, there remains room for improvement, according to the DICT Secretary, Gregorio Honasan II.
Mr. Honasan was citing the recent Ookla Global Index, which showed that the Philippines has significantly improved in Internet speed, marking a 216.94% increase in fixed broadband speed and a 127.82% increase in mobile Internet speed from July 2016 to July 2020.
The country now registers an average of 25.07Mbps and 16.95Mbps for fixed broadband and mobile Internet, respectively.
Honasan said the Philippines’ biggest problem concerning digitalisation remains the lack of ICT infrastructure, resulting in poor coverage across the country, leaving many with weak to no connection signals.
Emphasising the need for funding and support for the National Broadband Program, Mr. Honasan said: “We should not leave the fate of our national ICT infrastructure to the private sector only. It is high time for a government-owned network that’s built even in remote communities, not based on their market viability, but with a mission to provide equal opportunity for all.”
The proposed budget by the DICT is set to cover the Philippines by 2022 under Phase 2 of the National Broadband Program.
Part of the DICT budget will be allocated to speed up the lighting of fibre optic cables of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) and the National Transmission Corporation across the country.
With the requested funding, DICT Assistant Secretary, Emmanuel Rey Caintic, added the DICT can simultaneously install active components for fibre optic cables in various provinces and deliver expected results within six to nine months.
Another portion will be spent on microwave radio towers, to be deployed in areas with no fibre optic cables.
The first phase of the Program will be completed in early 2021. Using the 2019-20 budget, the DICT is set to activate and connect the Cable Landing Station in Baler, Aurora to the NGCP node in San Fernando, La Union through the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure. Four DICT nodes and 15 NGCP nodes will also be activated.
Meanwhile, other sectors have also stepped up efforts to improve connectivity in the Philippines.
The Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (PT&T) and Go Philippines, a social enterprise, recently announced that they will be working together to provide Internet connectivity for the organisation’s e-learning platform.
With a network reach of 13,500 fiber kilometers in high-growth areas, covering almost 40% of the total Philippine population, PT&T enables Go Philippines to meet the heightened need for connectivity and distance learning tools among their partner schools.
With the ongoing global pandemic, Go Philippines said an efficient and reliable Internet connectivity is critical to online learning for schools and students.
Michael Goldsmith, Go Philippines Co-Founder and Chief Visionary Officer, said even the best learning management system would fail without quality connectivity.
Image credit: DICT