The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said that the National Broadband Plan (NBP) will become operational by mid-2023.
This is the DICT‘s assurance to senators as Senator Grace Poe is defending the proposed 2023 budget for the department.
While answering Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III’s questions, Poe said that Phase 1 of the NBP is now 73 percent complete. The said phase includes the activation of 28 nodes of the national fiber backbone, which is placed in 12 provinces between Quezon City and Laoag.
Poe highlighted the need for the country to have an ICT backbone to catch up on the current trend in technology and to also help the government save money.
Pimentel expressed his concerns regarding the project by asking about its practicality. The senator asks if the country should “still aspire” for its own national backbone that it can only fund at 2 percent per year.
Since it wouldn’t be completed in 20 to 30 years, he fears that, by then, the first or initial phases would already be obsolete.
“The government itself is a large enterprise and as a loan, with all the government offices, will really benefit on having its own network. Even if we do this in phases, like for example Laoag to Quezon City, even if the other phases are not completed yet, the phase that has been completed can already be operational,” Poe clarified.
Started five years ago, the NBP’s goal is to provide faster, more efficient, and equitable internet connectivity in the Philippines, even in remote areas. As of August, the DICT was able to bring high-speed internet connection to 981 government offices in 13 provinces.
The NBP will have five phases with an estimated cost of Php100 billion. The government has already spent about Php5 billion as of now.