Thursday, February 22, 2024

ADB, ICT Office start ‘shared infra’ project to speed up PH Internet

Acknowledging the crucial role of the government in speeding up the slow Internet connection in the Philippines, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has partnered with the DOST’s ICT Office for a massive initiative called “National e-Government Infrastructure Sharing Project.”

ADB consultant Clifford Beek (center) and senior public management specialist Seok Yong Yoon (right) during the kick-off ceremony event
ADB consultant Clifford Beek (center) and senior public management specialist Seok Yong Yoon (right) during the kick-off ceremony event

At a kick-off ceremony held last March 18 at the ICT Office headquarters in Quezon City, representatives from the ADB, the Department of Energy (DOE), National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), National Transmission Commission (TransCo), National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), Power Sector Assets & Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM), and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) gathered to launch the project.

At the event, ADB senior public management specialist Seok Yong Yoon lamented the poor state of Internet in the Philippines, as he stressed the need for the government to explore options in providing sustainable Internet connectivity to meet the growing demands from the public and private sector.

DOST undersecretary and ICT Office executive director Louis Napoleon Casambre, who delivered the welcome address on behalf of DOST secretary Mario Montejo, called for the need to strengthen the country?s eGovernment infrastructure, citing UN reports on eGovernance, where the Philippines has shown a steep decline.

He stated that through infrastructure sharing, interoperability between government agencies can be promoted, making it easier to execute G2G and G2B transactions. He said shared infrastructure will benefit the public not only in providing transparency through eGovernance, but also in improved connectivity for easier transactions.

For his part, ICT Office deputy executive director for eGovernance Denis Villorente identified the existing problems of connectivity in the Philippines. He then went on to expound the concept of shared infrastructure, its objectives, as well as its benefits.

Villorente defined “infrastructure sharing” as an effective strategy in unleashing the economic and social benefits of a pervasive fiber-optic cable network. It entails sharing between different network access providers, as well as different infrastructure from different utilities such as electricity and transport.

Through infrastructure sharing, the project aims to do the following:

  • Be able to use excess fiber/right of way, specifically on the transportation NGCP electricity transmission network to provide connectivity for better government services, including for public health, public education, and improved peace and order in the country.
  • Introduce a technical assistance project, specifically an evaluation study on shared infrastructure, anticipating commercial aspects and other surrounding issues; and providing strategies moving forward.
  • Research and document best practices for infrastructure strategy.
  • Level off interests and concerns of government and stakeholders, including PSALM, TransCo, DOE, NGCP, and ERC.

Upon full implementation, the project?s benefits for its end-users include:

  • Better connectivity
  • Reduced cost in network expansion and operating expenditures, trickling down to lessened costs for the consumer
  • Revenue generation for host infrastructure provider through rental revenue and opportunities for private investment
  • Healthy competition by providing opportunities for new operators
  • Public benefits including impact to the environment: reduced public infrastructure expenditure leading to positive environmental impact

The ICT Office said that by providing technical assistance, the ADB is supporting the Philippine government in determining the most cost-effective and sustainable option to enhance Internet connectivity in the Philippines.

On a larger scale, the technical support of ADB is also seen helping the ICT Office in further developing policies for a National Broadband Plan.


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