PSAC aims to enhance PH internet connectivity with P16.1-B budget

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The Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) is looking at improving the internet connectivity in the country following the approval by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board of P16.1 billion for the establishment of a digital infrastructure.
 

Although a far cry from the P240 billion initially requested by PSAC, the council hopes to use the approved budget for the digital infrastructure.
 

The budget’s approval came during the NEDA’s 18th board meeting, where President Marcos approved the Philippine Digital Infrastructure Project, initiated by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
 

The flagship project aims to boost broadband connectivity nationwide, particularly in geographically isolated and disadvantaged or remote areas, and strengthen cybersecurity in the country.
 

Originally, the PSAC requested P240 billion to enhance internet infrastructure and P60 billion annual allocation for DICT.
 

The funds are intended for the lease of towers, building last-mile facilities, and optimizing existing telecommunications facilities that will provide internet access in 125,000 public facilities, including schools, hospitals, and health centers, over four years.
 

The group also recommended commercial cooperation between the government and the private sector to construct 35,000 additional cell sites since, according to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), the country only has 22,405 cell towers.
 

This is below the target of at least 50,000 cell sites to be at par with its Asian neighbors.
 

"There must be collaborative efforts between government agencies, particularly the Office of the President and DICT, and the private sector, to equip the workforce with essential competencies for the digital era," UnionDigital Bank President and Chief Executive Officer Henry Aguda, who leads the PSAC’s digital infrastructure sector, said in a statement.
 

Meanwhile, Globe Telecom President and CEO Ernest Cu said that the passage of legislative measures, such as the amendments in the Building Code of the Philippines, would support the digital infrastructure.
 

“Telco and the internet must be widespread, robust, and meaningful, enabling full participation in the digital economy. Currently, policy gaps hinder expansion into rural and underserved areas,” Cu said.
 

With reports that the country falls behind in internet connectivity compared to its neighboring countries, the World Bank urged the government to increase investment in broadband infrastructure.