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DICT to start pilot tests for national broadband plan next month

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THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said that next month it will start the pilot test of its fiber backbone facility that will be used for the implementation of the national broadband plan.

In a statement released late Thursday, the agency said the pilot implementation, installation, and testing is scheduled for the last two months of the year. This is in preparation for the firing up of portions of its 6,154-kilometer dark fiber network next year.

“Seven point-to-point routes in Benguet, Tarlac, Pampanga, Batangas, Mindoro, Albay, Camarines Sur, Cagayan, and Bohol were identified for the pilot project, which is aimed to test both the integrity of NGCP Optical Groundwire (OPGW) and the latest optical transport technologies in the market,” it said.

The DICT also said on Friday that it has gained support from the House of Representatives in securing its full-year proposed budget of P2 billion for the national broadband plan in 2019.

Parts of the budget will be used to operate the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure (LBI), which will be linked to the fiber optic cables. This backbone will act as a distribution network for the 2 million megabits per second (Mbps) of data capacity that will come from the landing stations.

“We must pick up from our achievements we’ve had this year, so we are grateful for the support of our representatives,” DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said in the statement.

In June, the DICT signed a tripartite agreement with the National Transmission Corp. (Transco) and the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) to use the dark fiber assets for the national broadband plan.

It also recently inked a deal with the National Electrification Authority (NEA) and the Philippine Rural Cooperatives Association, Inc. (PHILRECA) for assistance in tapping electric cooperatives for the use of their infrastructure for the “middle mile,” which will link the backbone to the point of presence in provinces.

Mr. Rio previously explained small telecommunications companies get from the point of presence to the “last mile” to link the connection to subscribers.

The DICT is still looking to sign an agreement with cable operators who will help in finishing the last mile connectivity in other parts of the country.

“We are convinced that the (national broadband plan) can finally get rid of our country’s long standing issue of poor and costly internet connection. The DICT is ready, capable, and determined to spearhead this initiative,” Mr. Rio said.

The DICT has been pushing for a national broadband plan as a solution to improving internet connectivity in rural areas in the country by utilizing existing infrastructure. — Denise A. Valdez