Nat’l Broadband Program to save gov’t P720M in 2021, says DICT

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The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said government agencies will have access to cheaper and more reliable Internet subscription once the first phase of the National Broadband Program (NBP) is completed.

Through the program, government agencies can avail Internet service at P50 per megabits per second (Mbps) of Internet bandwidth per month. At present, government offices spend P350.00 per Mbps of Internet bandwidth per month. This means that an average size agency which requires a 100 Mbps shared Internet connectivity across a whole building spends around P35,000 per month or P420,000 a year.

With the NBP, an average office would now only spend P5,000 a month or P60,000 a year for the same speed, according to the DICT. The DICT said it expects the government to save P720 million in Internet subscription expenses in the first year of implementation of the NBP.

For Phase 1, the DICT will activate the Cable Landing station in Baler, Aurora and connect to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) Node in San Fernando La Union through the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure. DICT will then activate and light up 4 DICT nodes and 15 NGCP nodes that will connect to the various DICT equipment. From there, it will be able to provide bandwidth to nearby govnet clients and free public WiFi beneficiaries.

By 2022, if the DICT’s additional budget request of approximately P17 billion for 2021 is approved, the proposed Phase 2 of the NBP will cover Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, posing a projected savings of around P34 billion in government Internet expense.

“We can expect that by the end of 2020, Phase 1 of the NBP will begin operations, and by 2021, we can already feel the effects of said initiative,” DICT secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said on Tuesday, Oct. 6, that he will push for a bigger budget for the NBP and free public WiFi program.

“This is the backbone of our economy. In this day and age of modern information technology, we have no reason not to catch up or to be at par with neighboring countries, considering that potential investors’ first concern would be internet speed,” Lacson said at the budget hearing for the DICT and National Telecommunications Commission.

During the hearing, the DICT revealed it is seeking an additional P17.276 billion under the 2021 budget to complete the NBP

While the DICT’s ideal budget to complete the national broadband program is P18,178,708,149.20, the Department of Budget and Management approved only P902,194,000 in the National Expenditure Program.

Also, the DICT sought an additional P3.625 billion for free Wi-Fi in remote areas. While its ideal budget was P6,350,579,000, only P2,725,461,000 was approved in the NEP.

Lacson also cited the DICT’s role in assisting the integration of databases of government agencies to further cut bureaucratic red tape. “In this case, the budgets for the database will be with the departments concerned, but the DICT will guide the departments on the use of the budgets,” he said.

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