Solon solicits support of House members for National Broadband Plan

Tarlac representative Victor Yap urged his colleagues at the House of Representatives to support the National Broadband Plan (NBP) during the budget plenary debates held on Tuesday, September 25.

Yap cited the role of the broadband program in improving Internet speed and increasing connectivity in far-flung areas of the country.

“The NBP is one of the priority projects of no less than President Duterte himself. According to the DBM, the problem is in the absorptive capacity of agencies. But in a program like the NBP, the DICT only has to bid out the program. They were able to do this and even prioritized unserved and underserved areas. The shortcomings in other programs like the free WiFi can be traced to the contractors — the major ones being the telco duopoly — who weren’t able to carry out their part,” he said.

The NBP aims to tap existing ICT infrastructure like the Luzon By-pass Infrastructure Project (BCDA-DICT-Facebook Project); the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines’ (NGCP) Fiber Optics along the transmission lines; and the National Electrification Administration electric cooperatives for the last mile connectivity, particularly in areas which don’t have Internet.

Its implementation would be equivalent to equipping a million households and 200,000 public schools with Internet, according to Yap.

“The total Budget needed for the NBP in 2019 is P2,386,729,000.00. This is equivalent to .06% of the proposed NEP (National Expenditure Program) for 2019 amounting to P3.7 trillion. On the other hand, a 1-percentage point increase in Internet penetration rate translates into an additional .65 percentage point of GDP growth, on average. DICT states that the NBP is projected to provide the country with economic returns within two years, possibly even less. No other project has that kind of quick economic returns,” Yap said.

The House ICT committee chair also highlighted the need for the government to take advantage of its 2 million Mbps deal with Facebook and its fiber network agreement with the NGCP.

“We should capitalize on this deal with Facebook. This is equivalent to approximately P4.8 billion of government savings per year.” Yap said.

“The water has started flowing and the clock has started ticking for us to implement this. Every month, every week, every minute and every second that we not benefit from this is a waste of that 25-year deal,” Yap added.

Yap also pointed out how NGCP’s 6,200 km fiber and Facebook’s cable-landing system could help ease the entry of a third telco.

“The new telco may build the cell sites to distribute the Internet provided for by Facebook, and transmitted via the NGCP lines. This is another deal that the government was able to secure for free. This will not only save us money but will also compel current telcos to lower their costs and improve their services,” he said.

The lawmaker also pointed out the importance of the National Government Data Center, whose establishment would provide the needed infrastructure to interconnect government agencies and consolidate numerous agency data centers that can provide services such as cloud computing, Web hosting, and server co-location.

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