DICT seeks P18B budget to help improve internet connectivity

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 19 2020 10:36 PM

Department of Information and Communications Technology chief Gregorio Honasan II on Saturday said his office is proposing a budget of P18 billion for the National Broadband Program to help improve the country’s internet connectivity.

Honasan said that, although internet speed in the country has improved in recent years, there is still a need to address the country’s lack of ICT infrastructure.

“We should not leave the fate of our national ICT infrastructure to the private sector only. It is high time for a government-owned network that’s built even in remote communities, not based on their market viability, but with a mission to provide equal opportunity for all,” Honasan said in a statement.

He previously said during a House hearing that the country's internet connection "is not that bad."

The DICT cited the recent Ookla Global Index showing that the Philippines has improved internet speeds, apparently marking a 216.94-percent increase in fixed broadband speed and a 127.82-percent increase in mobile internet speed from July 2016 to July 2020. 

According to the data, the country now registers an average of 25.07 Mbps and 16.95 Mbps for fixed broadband and mobile internet, respectively.

“For practical purposes, one can already surf the internet, use Facebook and YouTube, and make video calls with our current internet speed. From time to time, I use my smartphone to check mobile internet speeds in the areas I go to. Ginagawa din yan ng ibang tao,” said Honasan.

“May ibang lugar more or less nasa 3 Mbps, may ibang lugar naman more or less 7 Mbps. Kahit sino pwede sumubok nito. Of course, we need to aim higher and the country can definitely do better. No excuses; we take full responsibility for the current situation that our telecommunications and internet connectivity are in.”

But he cited there is still work to be done to improve internet speed.

“While our mobile internet speed has multiplied in recent years, we can still do more by improving our fiber optic cables and cell tower infrastructure,” Honasan added.

He said that the lack of ICT infrastructure remained a problem, resulting in poor coverage across the country and leaving many with weak to no connection signal. 

This is why he emphasized the need for funding and support for the NBP.

The proposed a budget of about P18 billion is set to cover the Philippines by 2022 under the Program’s Phase 2. 

Meanwhile, DICT Assistant Secretary Emmanuel Rey Caintic said the proposed budget will speed up the lighting up of fiber optic cables of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) and the National Transmission Corp. (TransCo) across the country. 

He added that the DICT can simultaneously install active components for fiber optic cables in various provinces and deliver expected results in six to nine months given the requested funding.

Part of the P18 billion will be spent on microwave radio towers that will be deployed in areas with no fiber optic cables. 

According to Caintic, Phase 1 of the NBP will be completed in early 2021. 

Using the 2019-20 budget, the DICT is set to activate and connect the Cable Landing Station in Baler, Aurora to the NGCP node in San Fernando, La Union through the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure. Four DICT nodes and 15 NGCP nodes will also be activated.

“Maliit yung NBP Phase 1 in terms of geography, pero ang kagandahan, abot mula Baler hanggang La Union, paikot ng Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Trinidad, Baguio, Region 2 and 3, hanggang NCR,” he explained.