PH sees cheaper internet by yearend

Published July 5, 2021, 12:35 PM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

The rollout of additional open access fiber optic cables in the Philippines will lower internet rates and improve access by yearend.
Already, Philippines Fiber Optic Cable Network (PFOCN), the local subsidiary of Singapore-based HyalRoute Group, invested US$3 billion for a 60,000-kilometer fiber cable network project which Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez described as “the single most extensive cable network project in the Philippines todate.”
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“For sure, people will have cheaper, better and more stable internet access in more rural places by yearend,” Hendrick Huang, PFOCN executive deputy managing director, today (July 5) assured.
“As of today, we have completed over 9,000 kilometers of backbone fiber network nationwide,” he explained.
“With 5,000 kilometers that are ongoing plus the accelerated rollout of an additional 2,000 kilometers, our total fiber network would reach around 16,000 kilometers by the end of 2021.”
The Singapore-based company has already invested $500 million and is set to accomplish the first phase of the 10-year project that will be staggered from 2019 to 2028.
The rollout plan of PFOCN is to finish 30,000 kilometers between 2019 to 2024.
Despite the pandemic and the lockdowns that limited mobility, the company executive is confident that they are on track with plans and timelines.
“The first phase would be 20,000 kilometers, and I’m very confident that by the first half of next year, we would have finished the construction. That’s only three years, and it’s actually faster than we have planned,” Huang noted.
The Singapore-based firm will install and maintain optical fiber network under a memorandum of agreement between PFOCN and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
PFOCN will also undetake other activities for the government’s National Broadband Program and free public WiFi project.
Aside from providing a backbone to the government’s digitalization program, PFOCN will pave the way for operators to launch 5G networks, cloud services, Internet of Things (IoT), AI services and other innovative technologies at affordable prices.
While PFOCN regards the country’s shift towards digitization as less aggressive compared to its Southeast Asian peers, Huang maintains that the shifts in government policy vis-à-vis digital transformation and infrastructure industries are “positive developments”.
“In the next one to two years – the entire industry will be revolutionized, and disrupted in a positive way,” according to Huang.
“People in Mindanao, Palawan, Baguio, Tuguegarao and other middle level cities like Tarlac, will have internet access that is on par or close to what we have in Manila right now,” he concluded.
 
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