Nat’l Broadband 2021 budget doubled to P2B

Published December 14, 2020, 8:31 AM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

To generate jobs and boost internet services in far-flung areas, legislators have doubled the National Broadband Program (NBP)’s 2021 budget from P902.194 million to P1.9 billion under the recently ratified P4.5-trillion general appropriations bill.

“We need to really ramp up our internet infrastructure. It’s one of the needs of our country,” Finance Committee chair Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara yesterday (Dec. 13) announced.

“When you talk about Build, Build, Build, you don’t just look at roads, you don’t just look at buildings, but you also look at the actual internet infrastructure because that will provide greater investments,” he elaborated.

Increasing 2021 NBP budget will bring more higher-paying jobs in the country, the lawmaker reiterated.

Initially, the Senate and House of Representatives increased the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s (DICT) budget to a combined P5 billion, but the bicameral committee slashed the increase to a measly P956 million.

During his interpellation of the bicameral conference report on the 2021 budget bill, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson criticized the “slash” in the DICT’s budget because P956 million is way below the needed P18 billion to fully implement the NBP, which would bring savings of up to P34 billion to the government in the next five years.

For the first year of the NBP implementation alone, the DICT argued that the government could save P720 million in internet subscription expenses as costs would go down to P5,000 a month.

Already, in countries with high internet speed like South Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand, it is the government which spends for network infrastructure.

In the Philippines, such initiative remains to be private sector-driven.

Earlier, NTC Deputy Comm. Edgardo Cabarios explained that the Philippine internet will be stronger once more towers have been erected.

“We should invest in networks more,” he cited Vietnam which has 80,000 cell sites versus the Philippines’ 22,500.

Speeding up the building ofmore towers is just one of the six national broadband plan components- National Fiber Optic Cable Backbone, Cable Landing Stations, Accelerated Fiber Build, Satellite Overlay, and Broadband Delivery Management Service.