Ultra-high speed infrastructure to cut internet cost by half – DICT

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 9) — The cost of internet services could be cut in half by next year with the expected completion of the government’s "ultra-high speed information highway" project.

Department of Information and Communications Technology Secretary Eliseo Rio said the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure will be online by the first quarter of next year.

The initiative, which the government started in partnership with social media giant Facebook in 2017, involves building two cable landing stations on the east and west coasts of Luzon.

Once completed, the submarine cable system can provide a bandwidth equivalent of at least 2 million megabits per second. This equals to the existing capacities of both Globe Telecoms and Smart Communications.

Rio said the government will no longer have to rely on Globe and Smart for internet connection once the submarine cable system is online.

"'Pag dumating itong Facebook by first quarter of 2020, ililipat namin 'yung aming subscription sa Globe and Smart dito sa libre," the Secretary said.

[Translation: Once Facebook arrives by first quarter of 2020, we will change our subscription to Globe and Smart here to the free service.]

The system, he added, will allow the government to provide internet connection even to the most remote parts of the country.

"Ang priority na gamit ng gobyerno rito is para doon sa free WiFi natin at national broadband plan na ikokonekta natin lahat ng government offices, down to barangay," Rio added.

[Translation: The government's priority use for this is for the free WiFi and national broadband plan which will connect all government offices down to the barangay level.]

Filipinos using the internet will also benefit from the project, as it is expected to bring faster internet connection at lower prices.

Once the submarine cable system is online, the government can provide internet connection to small internet service providers, which currently rely on the two major telecommunication providers.

According to a survey conducted by technology firm Ookla in April, the Philippines ranks 104th among 138 countries in terms of mobile internet speed.

The country’s average mobile internet download speed is 14.73 megabits per second (Mbps) — way below the average global speed of 26.96 Mbps.

"Kung kumuha sila sa gobyerno, bababa ang presyo so Globe and Smart sigurado rin, kailangan babaan nila ang presyo nila," Rio said.

[Translation: If they get from government, prices will go down so Globe and Smart will surely have to lower their prices too.]

"The commercial cost will be more than one half than what we are experiencing right now," he added.

Rio said he also expects Mislatel, the third telco provider, to begin operations soon now that Congress has approved the transfer of the controlling interest of franchise holder Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company. The next step for Mislatel will be obtaining its permit to operate from the National Telecommunications Commission.

Mislatel has vowed to provide a minimum internet speed of 27 Mbps in its first year of operations and up to 55 mbps in succeeding years.

"Siguro mag-uumpisa sila sa mga urban areas: sa Manila, Davao, Cebu at siguro by the end of this year, magkakaroon na sila ng subscribers sa mga lugar na ito," Rio said.

[Translation: Maybe they will start in urban areas: in Manila, Davao, Cebu and maybe by the end of this year, they will have subscribers in these areas.]