The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has urged Electric Cooperatives (EC) or distribution utilities in the Cordilleras to shift to fiber optics to allow the internet signal it provides to reach far-flung communities and serve the educational needs of students.
Atty. Delmar Cariño, Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) legal and community relations manager, said “the marching order for all ECs now is to exploit what electricity can bring for countryside development in terms of tapping the potentials of ECs for internet services and other business opportunities.”
Cariño said National Electrification Administration (NEA) chief Edgardo Masongsong has taken note of the blended learning approach the Department of Education (DepEd) has approved for this school year which opens in August, and has ordered ECs to “fast-track the installation of their fiber optic lines to be able to go for internet service and respond to the need for digital transformation.”
The Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (PHILRECA), NEA and DICT have earlier forged an agreement for the use of fiber optic to provide free internet services to public institutions as part of the government’s national broadband project.
For residential and commercial customers, however, Masongsong has urged the ECs to explore the possibility of joint ventures or build, operate and transfer (BOT) schemes with private investors to help ensure provision of efficient internet services now that work from home arrangements have already become a regular practice for private and public enterprises.
Carino said Beneco has brought high capability internet connectivity from DICT to 13 public institutions using their cooperative’s fiber optic cables since the forging of the accord. These include the Benguet State University, Baguio city hall, Baguio General Hospital (BGH), Benguet General Hospital and the Philippine National Police headquarters in Baguio, Benguet and Cordillera Administrative Region, among others.
Cariño said BENECO has also forged an agreement with Converge, a private internet provider that connects individual houses to the worldwide web. He shared that Masongsong gave the order in a video message on June 30 to all 121 ECs nationwide.
The NEA administrator regularly addresses ECs to boost their morale amid the pandemic. Aside from BENECO, there are four other ECs in the Cordillera Administrative Region — Kalinga-Apayao Electric Cooperative, Ifugao Electric Cooperative, Mountain Province Electric Cooperative and Abra Electric Cooperative.
Masongsong has actually urged all ECs to be more aggressive and assertive in looking for windows to harness their power, including provision of internet access to offices and households, and continue to maintain and upgrade their system for a more reliable supply of power.
He added: “Expect a surge in demands among residential and business establishments in the coming months. The anchor is good electricity service. This can be achieved in terms of a steady supply of power, addressing unplanned power outages and restoring power with dispatch.