BAGUIO CITY – Thirteen government offices are now benefitting from the pilot testing of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) that aims to provide efficient, affordable and quality internet service to enhance inter-connectivity in the countryside.
The roll out of the NBP in the Baguio and Benguet areas was concretized with the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) among the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT), the National Transmission Corporation (TRANSCo) and the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO), the first electric cooperative that will implement the project in the country.
DICT Undersecretary Denis Villorente said that BENECO was chosen to pilot test the NBP in the Baguio and Benguet areas because its present distribution system is ready for the project aside from the fact that the electric cooperative has been highly recommended by TRANSCo management and no less than Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi as the distribution utility that is capable of effectively and efficiently handling the project implementation.
The 13 government offices that will benefit from the prescribed internet speed of up to 200 mega-bites per second (mbps) include the Police Regional Office–Cordillera, Benguet provincial government, Cordillera Office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-CAR), Benguet State University (BSU), La Trinidad Municipal Police Station, PNP La Trinidad sub-stations, Baguio City government, Baguio City Police Office (BCPO), Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) radar in Mount Sto. Tomas, PAGASA Office, BENECO headquarters and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).
Villorente claimed that the over 200 kilometers of fiber optic cables that had been put in place by BENECO in its distribution system, apart from its expansion of the same, is already a testament that the electric cooperative is worthy to be the agency’s partner in the realization of the NBP in the underserved and unserved areas, like in the non-viable areas within its franchise area.
The NBP is aimed at providing the backbone for digital identity, digital connectivity and digital payment where every Filipino will be assured of efficient, affordable and quality internet service unlike in the present situation where giant telecommunication companies are not able to provide the internet speed that is required to bring to the countryside better internet service.
Earlier, DICT acquire a bandwidth from the two giant telecommunication companies which is now being used to roll out the NBP in the different parts of the country while awaiting for the much bigger bandwidth it acquired from Facebook, aside from bandwidth that will be provided by other private partners wanting to help the government realize better internet service in the countryside.
“Our goal is to make internet speed faster and affordable to Filipinos through the roll-out of the national broadband plan so that we will be able to cope with the internet speed of our neighboring countries in the Southeast Asian region. We want people in the countryside to be in the same boat as those in the urban centers where the internet speed is at its maximum,” Undersecretary Villorente stressed.
Deputy Administrator Rosan Lee of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) pointed out that the roll-out of the NBP in Baguio and Benguet is a milestone in the history of BENECO as one of the top performing electric cooperatives in the country, saying that some 29 other electric cooperatives are now aspiring to emulate what BENECO has done to bring better internet service to the people in their areas of operation.
The NEA official claimed the partnership forged among DICT, TRANSCo and BENECO serves as a template for other qualified electric cooperatives to avail of the similar service from the agency tasked to implement the project pursuant to the marching orders of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to improve the internet access to the Filipino people.
She said that BENECO has always shown the way in providing its consumers with cheap and quality power passing through a reliable and state-of-the-art system.
Previously, DICT also forged an agreement with TRANSCo, the owner of the country’s transmission system, and NGGCP for the utilization of the existing transmission lines to bring to the countryside the desired internet speed that people had been demanding from the giant telecommunication companies.
BENECO general manager Gerardo P. Verzosa explained that being the last-mile provider of fast and reliable internet service was not part of the equation when management decided to install fiber optic cables in its distribution system that will be used to improve the delivery of quality power to the consumers.
He underscored it is a great privilege for BENECO to be the first electric cooperative that will pilot test the improved internet service to the beneficiaries because being a last-mile provider was never part of the expansion plans considering the highly competitive power business.
Verzosa expressed confidence the pilot testing will go on smoothly so that better opportunities for BENECO will be available once the bigger bandwidth will be turned over to the DICT by the fourth quarter this year for the same to be cascaded to the grassroots level.