ICT chief Salalima to push for ‘scaled-down’ nat’l broadband network

The newly-created Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) ruled out government s entry as a third telco player to rival powerful industry incumbents, but 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 they would include in its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) due in the coming weeks a plan to pursue broadband development in the countryside.
Salalima said under this plan, the government will build broadband infrastructure in areas unserved or underserved by large telco providers such as PLDT and Globe Telecom. For using its infrastructure, telco providers will pay government a lease. This would also form part of an overall national broadband plan, which Salalima said could be finalized within the year.

The purpose of this is in effect to create infrastructure by government not necessarily for the government to compete with the telcos, because the government simply cannot, Salalima said during the Friday s public consultation exercise for its guidelines.

The development comes as telco providers PLDT and Globe Telecom dodge criticism over slow and expensive internet. The countryside broadband development plan was in a scale smaller than the national 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 under President Arroyo.

National Telecommunications Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said on Friday that some of the key areas to benefit are those in Mindanao. The need for a national broadband plan was earlier outlined under a recent policy brief presented to the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines last February. Among other items, the plan should outline clear steps to achieve broadband goals, including how to make internet services more accessible and affordable to the broader Filipino population.

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