Microsoft executive enthusiastic about PH National Broadband Plan

By Edd K. Usman

A plan to provide eight out of ten Filipinos with faster Internet connections and bring all government offices online “is the most exciting policy in the Philippines,” a Microsoft executive said.

Microsoft's Tuminez: We would like to partner with government.

Microsoft Southeast Asia regional director for legal and corporate affairs Astrid Tuminez

Dr. Astrid S. Tuminez, regional director for legal and corporate affairs at Microsoft Southeast Asia, expressed her enthusiasm about the Philippines’ National Broadband Plan (NBP) during an interview with reporters on Friday, Oct. 6.

Moreover, she said that the government’s cloud-only policy is also one of the reasons why Microsoft is interested in partnering with the Philippines.

“We’ve been knocking on the door of the ICT department because we want to be your partner,” she said. “It’s the right policy.”

Launched in February this year, the government’s cloud-only policy was formulated by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the same agency that is in charge of the NBP.

Besides being its flagship initiative, it also intends to improve telecommunications service in the country, which is considered one of the slowest and most efficient in Asia, if not the world.

Launched in June 2017, the broadband plan will also bring all high schools online and cut internet connection costs. DICT said the NBP has a budget of around P77 billion to P200 billion.

Meanwhile, Tuminez added that leadership — not form of government — is the key to realizing a robust ICT program, she said, citing Singapore, Vietnam, and Malaysia.

“Singapore is very developed, Vietnam leapfrogged over other Asean countries from 2000 to 2010, and Malaysia is also known for its strong ICT sector, Tuminez ,” said during the “4IR: 4Asean and 4theFuture” event at Discovery Primea in Makati City.

The event also launched a book containing four case studies covering the ICT programs of Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, and Myanmar.

Titled “A Cloud for Doing Good: A Technology Revolution for All Asean,” it examines key data on Asean’s readiness for cloud computing through the four nations even as it looks into potential barriers to digital transformation, cloud solutions, and other nations’ best practices that can work for the region.

In her five years with Microsoft, she saw Asean governments with “a really great policy and poor policy.”

“Without commenting on the different political systems, I think the fundamental question is quality of leadership. I think you have to shift the discussion,” she said, giving three suggestions:

  1. First, is the government able to define its vision for technology and how technology can empower itself to deliver better services, like business permits and taxation?
  2. Second, is the government able to muster necessary support from agencies as well as from the private sector and non-profit organizations?
  3. Last but not the least, does the government have discipline in executing its plans?

“It’s really the quality of leadership, the clarity of the vision, lining up the resources, partnering with the private sector, and non-profit and then executing with discipline,” she said.

Microsoft launched the book together with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Microsoft as cloud technology is quickly turning into the norm for businesses and organizations in the region for those who to remain in the competition.

“Cloud computing is at the heart of the current technology revolution and digital transformation going on in Asean. This is why it is imperative to look into the trends and best practices of other nations so that we can adapt more readily to what is an increasingly digital global economy,” Tuminez said.

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