Issue of January 13, 2019
Mt. Province

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Faster and cheaper internet underway
Broadband plan set in Baguio & Benguet
by Jane B. Cadalig

The government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) has been rolled out in Baguio and Benguet with the Benguet Electric Cooperative joining the loop.

Beneco has signed on Jan. 8 with the Department of Information and Communications Technology and National Transmission Corporation the memorandum of agreement for the implementation of the NBP pilot project.

The NBP aims to interconnect government offices for faster communication, better coordination, and easier delivery of online services through free and speedy Internet access.

Beneco is the first electric cooperative in the country to be involved in the NBP by offering its fiber optic cables for the distribution of free Internet from the DICT through the Regional Government Network. The NBP is piloted in selected government agencies and offices, local government units, hospitals, state universities and colleges, and public schools.

National Electrification Administration Deputy Administrator Rosan Rosero-Lee said there are 29 electric coops that are ready to be tapped for the NBP because of their installed fiber optic cables, but Beneco’s connection to the pilot offices in Baguio and Benguet is the first so far among the country’s distribution utilities.

Before the Jan. 8 MOA signing, 11 offices in Baguio and La Trinidad were connected to the DICT’s GovNet. These are the Department of Science and Technology-Cordillera, Benguet Capitol, La Trinidad municipal hall, Benguet State University, Benguet General Hospital, Police Regional Office-Cordillera, La Trinidad Municipal Police Station, Baguio City Hall, Pagasa Agromet, Pagasa radar, and Beneco main office at South Drive.

DICT Usec. Denis Villorente said that Baguio, which serves as the gateway to the Cordillera, was included in the NBP pilot implementation because the region is one of the most unserved and underserved areas in terms of the Internet services offered by telecommunication companies.

“Cordillera is one of the most unserved and underserved areas because of its topography, (but) we will not wait for private telcos to roll out their infrastructure for broadband services (to serve the region),” he said.

Villorente added Beneco’s participation in the government’s NBP will be the model that the DICT and Transco will use in collaborating with other electric cooperatives in the country.

Beneco General Manager Gerardo Verzosa said the coop is grateful of the opportunity to have been involved in the implementation of the government’s NBP and be able to help bring faster Internet services.

Verzosa said Beneco is looking forward to bringing faster and cheaper Internet services to the most remote communities in its franchise area. 

“We are thankful to have been given the opportunity to be a provider of Internet services under the NBP project of the government. With this undertaking, we hope Beneco can help a farmer’s daughter in the remote areas of Benguet be competitive with a child studying in the city with the help of Internet services delivered by Beneco,” he said.

Under the MOA, Beneco’s fiber optic cables will also be tapped to connect Transco’s fiber backbone to the DICT as part of the national fiber backbone component of the NBP in which an ultra-high Internet, through the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure (LBI), will be delivered.

The government partnered with Facebook in which the latter will provide the government a bandwidth of up to two million megabits per second (mbps) or two terabits per second (tbps).

Villorente said the bandwidth provided by Facebook, said to exceed the capacity of the two giant telecommunication firms, will be deployed across the country to provide fast Internet access to all Filipinos.

He said with the Facebook partnership under the LBI, Internet access in government offices and public places will be free.

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