Poe tells DICT to deliver promise of fast internet for gov’t offices in 4 regions – INQUIRER.net

Sen. Grace Poe at the Senate. PRIB file photo / Henzberg Austria
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Grace Poe has asked the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) to deliver their promise of faster internet — to the tune of 200 gigabits per second (Gbps) across government offices in four regions — once Phase 1 of the National Broadband Plan is finished.
During the budget hearing of DICT before the plenary on Wednesday, Poe inquired about the status of Phase 1 of the National Broadband Plan, and whether the agency can finish it despite huge budget cuts made by the Department of Budget and Management.

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Senator Ronald dela Rosa, who was defending the DICT budget, said that Regions I, III, the National Capital Region, and parts of Region II would get higher internet speeds once Phase 1 is completed by February 2022.
“We expect that by February 2022, we will actually feel the 200 Mpbs speed as committed by the government,” Poe said.

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“Like the invention of electricity over a century ago, broadband technology is the key to jobs, economic growth, and a better way of life as we cope with the pandemic,” she added.
In his answers, Dela Rosa revealed that the DICT had already finished placing international cable landing stations in Baler, Aurora, and in San Fernando, La Union.  Once it is completed, fiber internet would flow from Los Angeles, California, in the United States, towards the Philippines.

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However, there are still two other phases to the National Broadband Plan, and projects for these purposes may cost around P16 billion.
The good thing though is that the government has finished obligating funds for Phase 1, which means that the P4.5 billion allocated to the National Broadband Plan for 2022 may be used to start Phase 2 and 3.
DICT was only set to receive P6.47 billion as per the DBM’s National Expenditures Program, but the Senate increased this to P9.5 billion.
“Well they need P16 billion, but what is given to them is only P4.5 billion.  Based on their targets Mr. President is that they have to complete the activation of the national fiber backbone, the expansion of the transponder systems,” Dela Rosa said.
“So all the obligations for Phase 1 were already covered.  The P4.5 billion will now be able to pay for Phase 2 and Phase 3,” Poe replied.

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Poe also asked DICT about developments in its free Wi-Fi project in public areas as well as in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), which would be crucial to distance learning schemes.
DICT said that it has already established 1,832 live sites inside SUCs and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) institutions, while 9,586 live sites were set up in public places.  Another 2,989 sites were built in government hospitals, medical centers, rural health units, quarantine facilities, and vaccination centers.
While Poe commended DICT for their activities, she also urged them to fast-track all programs related to improving internet speeds especially since most the industries today — from education, businesses, and even the government itself — have been reliant on online transactions and setups due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We commend the effort of the agency and I think the telcos are also ramping up the improvements they need to do, knowing that many are working from home,” Poe said.
“With the financial muscle from Congress, we hope the DICT will fast-track the completion of the broadband program.  A fast, reliable, and affordable internet reaching unserved and underserved areas will help us cope with the pandemic.  We trust that the DICT is up to the landmark task,” she added.
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Poe: Hold gov’t execs accountable for delays in PH digital connectivity
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