After ‘connection’ deal with PLDT, gov’t set to open 4th PH Internet node in Cebu

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is set launch this month a “disconnected” Internet node in Cebu province that will allow Internet service providers in the Visayas region to exchange Web traffic without the need to connect to Manila or abroad.

Sen. Bam Aquino (2nd from right) with top DOST and PLDT officials during the MOA signing

Sen. Bam Aquino (2nd from right) with top DOST and PLDT officials during the MOA signing

This was revealed by ICT Office executive director Louis Casambre during the formal signing on Monday, Sept. 7, of a landmark agreement designating telco giant PLDT as the third connection point for the Philippine Internet Exchange (PHOpenIX).

Like the PHOpenIX, the Cebu node will be operated by the Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) of the DOST. However, Casambre said the Cebu facility will not be connected to the PHOpenIX but will instead will serve as an Internet exchange for ISPs in the southern part of the country.

At the signing ceremony held at the ICT Office in Quezon City, top PLDT officials came in full force, with company lawyer Ray Espinosa and senior executive Eric Alberto leading the pack. The government side was bannered by DOST Mario Montejo, Casambre, and ICT Office deputy executive director for e-government Denis Villorente.

Also present at the event was Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, who brokered the deal and the main person responsible for getting PLDT to connect to the PHOpenIX.

While the arrangement does not require PLDT to exchange traffic with other ISPs via the local Internet exchange, it will allow PLDT clients to peer directly with government websites through the PHOpenIX.

At the same time, the deal enables the telco titan to become compliant to Administrative Order No. 39, which mandates all local service providers to connect to the government-run PHOpenIX.

The agreement was described by both parties as a significant milestone that will bring the Philippines “one step closer to faster Internet access.”

“We are at the dawn where true peering which is the exchange between previously independent networks will soon benefit the customers of each of these networks,”said Casambre.

At the event, Espinosa broached the possibility that PLDT may soon join the local Internet exchange — a marked departure from the company’s hardline stance in the past of not connecting to the PHOpenIX.

“We’re studying all the legalities involved in this issue, and we’re also coordinating with the government on how we can go about this,” Espinosa said when asked if PLDT will eventually join as an active player and not merely as a connection point to the PHOpenIX.

Under the agreement, PLDT will provide the DOST, through ASTI, fiber optic connectivity from PLDT’s Pasig City Vitro Data Center to ASTI, becoming PHOpenIX’s third physical connection point, together with Globe Telecom’s MK1 in Makati and ASTI in Diliman.

For allowing the use of this fiber optic channel, PLDT is saving the government over P21 million for two years of free usage, officials said.

At the MOA signing, the ICT Office of the DOST also announced the designation of PHOpenIX as the official Government Internet Protocol Exchange (G/IPX) as specified in AO 39.

Internet exchanges (IX) allow for Internet data to be transmitted between users within a locality to take shorter route through an IX rather than taking a longer route outside the country. Most of the country’s providers are not peered through an IX, which is one of the reasons Internet access in the country is relatively slow compared to its neighboring countries where providers are peered through a neutral IX.

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