Philippines regulator considering public-private partnership to boost broadband

12 Sep 2017

The Philippine Star writes that that the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is mulling options to use a public-private partnership (PPP) model for at least one component of the country’s National Broadband Plan (NBP). The paper cites PPP Center executive director Ferdinand Pecson as saying that the DICT had applied for the Project Development Monitoring Facility (PDMF) funding for the project. ‘They just signified intention to tap into the facility so that the feasibility study could be done through this facility,’ he said. The PDMF is described as a revolving facility for government agencies to prepare such projects, with Pecson noting that the DICT’s application is for ‘the component of the NBP which involves installation of cellular towers in parts of the country currently not reached by telcos such as PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom Inc.’

The NBP was approved by President Duterte in March 2016 and will act as the template for the rollout of broadband infrastructure to connect government offices across the Philippines and to provide internet access to individuals living in unserved and underserved communities. With the DICT looking to conduct a feasibility study into the setting up of a working blueprint and a costing for the NBP – a previous estimate of PHP77.9 billion (USD1.5 billion) has been suggested – it is thought the total cost could come down if the government could make use of existing fibre network assets including the fibre-optic network in the transmission grid of the National Grid Corp of the Philippines (NGCP). It is hoped that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the use of the fibre network could be signed with the NGCP within the year. The Philippine Star points out that during the term of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the government was looking to build a national broadband network with China’s ZTE Corp. The plan was dropped, however, amid corruption issues.

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