Philippine Air Force to build cybersecurity center in new deal with local tycoon

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) will be building a new cybersecurity center with funding from local tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan.

Pangilinan, President and CEO of Philippine conglomerate PLDT Group, will be building the MVP Cybersecurity Center for Excellence to enhance the PAF’s ability to counter cyberattacks.

This new facility can also be seen as part of the Philippine government’s digitalisation effort. PAF spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Aristides Galang, said that the center will house PAF’s other security departments, including the security operations center, the network operations center, and PAF’s cyber range.

Pangilinan’s PLDT Group is the parent company of Smart Telecommunications, one of the two largest telecommunications service providers in the country.

“We are one with the government in ensuring that our country is safe from cyber threats. We look forward to more engagements with the Philippine Air Force and the Armed Forces of the Philippines on this front,” said Pangilinan.

This is not the first collaboration between PAF and PLDT. In August 2020, both parties signed an agreement that saw PLDT’s Cyber Security Operations Group (CSOG) provide cybersecurity training to military officers in the PAF.

Philippines telecom market powers through in spite of COVID-19

In April, W.Media reported that due to COVID-19, the Philippines’ newest telecom company, DITO Telecommunity, was forced to delay its launch due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The fixed-line market in the Philippines is said to be underdeveloped with low penetration in the broadband market due to low investment in digital infrastructure and rapid development of mobile technologies. 

But today, the Philippines could still see a silver lining in spite of difficult circumstances, as interest in improving digital infrastructures and building new data centers is rising. 

Two of the largest telecom companies, PDLT and Globe Telecom, are making continual moves to upgrade existing infrastructure.

PDLT will continue to accelerate its network modernisation program, shifting from copper to fibre, and their subsidiary Smart Communications teamed up with Google to deploy Wi-Fi hubs across the country. 

Smart and Globe have also pledged to participate in network sharing with DITO, signalling a willingness to speed up network rollouts like 5G and break up the long-standing duopoly held by PDLT and Globe.

DITO’s entrance to the Filipino market held similar ambitions, which is why it is also predicted that market competition in the country is expected to intensify from 2021, less than four months away.

In other exciting news, a new subsea cable, JUPITER, that links the Philippines with Japan and the U.S. has gained approval from the U.S. government and will be completed by 2021.

However, the pandemic crisis has left its mark on the telecom industry, with supply chains halted and job cuts slowing down construction of infrastructures, postponing the rollout of 5G and halting consumer demand for services. 

As to how Filipino consumers would respond to market competition, a reduced but steady and positive growth is predicted. This is because COVID-19 has proven that access to general communication is crucial to live life under the ‘new normal’ where technology is needed to support home-working.

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