DICT eyes national broadband network

THE NEWLY created Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) ruled out the government s entry as a third telecom player to rival powerful industry incumbents, and its secretary vowed to instead pursue a scaled-down national broadband network to reach far-flung areas. Rodolfo Salalima, the first Secretary of the DICT, said Friday that the agency would include in its implementing rules and regulations a plan to pursue broadband development in the countryside. Under this plan, he said the government would build broadband infrastructure in areas unserved or underserved by large telecom providers. For using its infrastructure, telecom providers will pay the government a fee.

This would also form part of an overall national broadband plan, he said.

The purpose of this is in effect to create infrastructure by government not necessarily for the government to compete with telcos, because the government simply cannot, Salalima said during the Friday s public consultation exercise for its guidelines. The development comes as PLDT and Globe Telecom dodge criticism over slow and expensive internet. Salalima said the intention was to issue the implementing rules within the month. Before the end of year, he hoped to craft a national broadband plan.

The current plan was in a scale smaller than a national broadband network proposed under the Arroyo administration. The last attempt to build a national broadband network was a $329 million project with China s ZTE. This was ultimately scrapped due to corruption issues during the Arroyo administration. National Telecommunications Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said some of the key areas to benefit were those in Mindanao. Miguel R. Camus

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