Philippine gov’t approves National Broadband Plan

Department of Information and Communications (DICT) Secretary Rodolfo Salalima

The Philippine government recently approved the much-awaited National Broadband Plan (NBP). Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Rodolfo Salalima confirmed the news at the recently concluded Telecommunication  Summit held in Manila.

The NBP, which was mandated by President Rodrigo Duterte in his first State of the Nation address last July, is expected to provide improved public access to telecommunications services.

It is also envisioned as the platform and enabler of the state’s e-E-Gov plan, which is a single digitized network for its online services for citizens, businesses and the government.

“Government and countryside will benefit for the plan. We will be working with various stakeholders for the implementation,” he said in a press briefing.

The plans, however, are still sketchy as consultations are still underway and the final stages of the NBP and the National Government Portal (NGP) are still being laid out. Both programs are envisioned to accelerate the deployment of network infrastructure and promote Internet access in underserved areas. 

Dominant carriers PLDT-Smart and Globe Telecom have expressed support for the proposed NBP. In an earlier statement, Globe President and CEO Ernest Cu said the government should build infostructure and infrastructure in places that make little or no business sense for the private sector to do so. 

This move, according to PLDT chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan, will result in the ability to deliver better and the cost to deliver them will drop.

Attempts by past administrations to build a government-managed National Broadband Network have fizzled out. In 2017, the government awarded a controversial $329-million contract to build the NBN to Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE but was later canceled due to allegations of corruption.
The present administration hopes to make a difference, especially as it aspires to align the country's objectives with the ASEAN Masterplan of 2015  whose goal is to make ICT the engine of growth in the region.

“We need good broadband in the Philippines if we want to use technology in providing government services to citizens,” said DICT Undersecretary Dennis Villorente, who acknowledged that the country is weak in terms of Internet affordability and infrastructure.  

To improve broadband access, he said the NBP will be looking at regulatory reform and possible DICT intervention in the infrastructure build up through a multi-stakeholder approach and harmonizing spectrum use. The DICT is now inviting public comments and input on the draft NBP.