Build better more



Anna Mae Lamentillo

The improvement and upgrade of the country’s digital infrastructure has been a top concern of President Bongbong Marcos even during the campaign. He has placed this as a top priority of his administration.
The importance of digital connectivity cannot be overemphasized. It was a crucial instrument of healing, surviving, recovery and rebuilding amid the global health crisis.

While the pandemic caused the great pivot to digital transformation, it also further emphasized the need to immediately address the Philippines’ inadequate information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, which has widened the digital divide.

President Marcos will “Build Better More” by continuing his predecessor’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program, incorporating a strong digital infrastructure program to ensure that Filipinos will have access to affordable and reliable internet.

In fact, the United Nations said that about 3.4 billion people living in rural areas worldwide can have better quality of life through improved access and internet connectivity.

According to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, “The experience of the pandemic has shown that where high-quality Internet connectivity is coupled with flexible working arrangements, many jobs that were traditionally considered to be urban can be performed in rural areas too.”

Bridging the digital divide is thus building better more. In this aspect, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) takes the lead. The Department is now led by Secretary Ivan Uy, who previously headed the then Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT). His expertise in technology law and comprehensive experience in information technology project management are vital assets in the government’s goal of achieving digital inclusion.

The DICT’s Connect, Harness, Innovate and Protect (CHIP) Implementation Plan lays out the strategies that would allow the country to accelerate national digital transformation.

Among the DICT’s projects is the development of another internet cable landing station (ICLS) to enhance the country’s international connectivity. Under the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure (LBI) project, a Landing Party Agreement (LPA) was signed among the DICT, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), and Edge Network Services Ltd. (Edge) for the construction of two cable landing stations (CLS) — in Baler, Aurora and in Poro Point in La Union — linked by a 240-kilometer fiber corridor with repeater stations spaced 50 kilometers apart.

Upon completion, the BCDA will turn over the facilities to the DICT, which will run and maintain the facility for the next 25 years (extendable for another 25 years). Edge will be the first party to utilize the LBI, but it will compensate the Philippine government with two terabytes per second (Tbps) of cable capacity. While Edge is the first to use the infrastructure, the DICT intends to expand the existing government owned CLS to other submarine cable providers from the private sector.

This ICLS will serve as the gateway for the National Fiber Backbone (NFB), which will link to middle-mile networks and terminate to last-mile components and digital endpoints.

The DICT will develop a demand-responsive, neutral fiber backbone for the country by utilizing the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines’ (NGCP) electrical transmission system. Other than this, the Department will also create regional rings of fiber to provide connectivity to provinces, cities, and municipalities.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Broadband will connect the national government agencies (NGAs), local government units (LGUs), Free Wi-Fi sites, and government data centers to the NFB to establish the government domestic network. This enables the LGUs and NGAs to form part of the broadband infrastructure network. This will connect the provinces and their nearby cities and municipalities to the NFB either through wired or wireless connection. This will allow remote communities within provinces to access digital opportunities through improved connectivity services.

These projects are crucial in building digital infrastructure that will not only connect communities including those in far-flung areas, but would also provide citizens with better quality of life through the delivery of speedy and efficient government services to the people.