PPP Center tapped to help in national broadband project
The country’s first ever national broadband network could be partly implemented through the Public Private Partnership scheme, the program’s top official said.
PPP Center executive director Ferdinand Pecson told reporters last week that the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT)—the agency tasked with implementing the P77.9-billion National Broadband Network project—had sought the PPP Center’s assistance.
Specifically, the DICT was keen on tapping the PPP Center’s project development and monitoring facility for a feasibility study.
“This is for the installation of the network of cellular towers in different parts of the country,” Pecson said, referring to one of the more capital intensive aspects of the national broadband plan.
One of the possible schemes, Pecson said, was to secure private sector funding for the cell sites, which could then be leased to the telecom companies. On the PPP Center’s website, it was listed as the “national broadband plan —accelerated tower build (access) project.”
The national broadband network was revived by the DICT, led by Secretary Rodolfo Salalima, last year. It was previously pursued by the Arroyo administration until it was canceled on corruption issues.
It aims to bring high-speed internet to unserved and underserved areas of the country, which retains its reputation for having among the slowest and most expensive fixed-line internet services.
Salalima said the cost of the project and the time it would take to implement could be reduced if the DICT would be allowed to tap the infrastructure built by National Grid Corp. of the Philippines.
The NGCP private telecom network operates and maintains a telecom backbone supporting the operation of the electricity grid in the entire archipelago.
It also consists of so-called optical passive ground wire along the high-voltage transmission lines and microwave radio hops which connect Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Salalima had said the target was to complete the project before the term of President Duterte ends in 2022.
Apart from the PDMF, DICT Undersecretary Denis Villorente said earlier that the agency could tap sponsors from the United States and Japan to help with the study.
The inclusion of a portion of the national broadband network was seen as a welcome addition to the PPP Program as many of its largest projects were removed given the Duterte administration’s shift to other funding options such as overseas development assistance loans and grants.
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