NBP’s hiked budget to improve internet services

National, News

Senator Sonny Angara expects Filipinos to experience better internet connectivity even in remote and inaccessible areas once the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) completes the first phase of its National Broadband Program (NBP).

Under the recently ratified P4.5 trillion 2021 General Appropriations Bill, Angara noted that the DICT’s budget for NBP was doubled from the proposed P902.194 to P1.9 billion. This is on top of the outlay for the implementation of DICT’s free Wi-Fi in public places and state universities and colleges (SUCs) program.

“We need to really ramp up our internet infrastructure. It’s one of the needs of our country. When you talk about build, build, build, you don’t just look at roads, you don’t just look at buildings, you also look at the actual internet infrastructure because that will provide greater investments,” Angara said.

With bigger investments coming in to the country, Angara said it will mean “more higher-paying jobs and more economic activity.”

He said there has always been a need for a fast, stable and reliable internet connection in the country but this is even more urgent now because of the changing requirements of the people under the new normal.

Restrictions on face-to-face transactions and in education has led to a greater demand for internet connectivity. The cost of internet subscriptions for the government alone is  huge amount but with the implementation of the NBP, the DICT promises to bring down the rates significantly.

DICT claims government will have access to cheaper and more reliable internet services that will reduce its spending on internet subscription once the first phase of the NBP is completed. Government offices spend an average of P350 per Megabits per second (Mbps) of internet bandwidth a month.

For an average size agency which requires a 100 Mbps shared internet connectivity across a whole building, the cost would be P35,000 per month, or PHP420,000 a year. With the NBP, DICT said this would go down to P5,000 a month only or P60,000 a year.

DICT expects the government to save P720 million in internet subscription expenses in the first year of the NBP implementation. For the free Wi-Fi in public places, the DICT budget for it was increased by P250 million, which brought up the total to P2.667 billion.

Republic Act 10929 or the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act mandates the government to provide free internet access in government offices and public places.

“With our schools barred from conducting face-to-face classes, students have been forced to adapt to flexible and distance learning methods. Expanding the reliability and access of our internet connections will go a long way in helping our children transition easier, especially for those who cannot afford to pay for their own subscriptions,” Angara said.

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