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Submarine cable landing stations to speed-up internet connectivity – DOST

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The slow internet connection in the country may soon be a thing of the past. This was according to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as it welcomed the initiative of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) which was formerly under the DOST, the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), and EDGE (a.k.a. Facebook).

This government initiative is called the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure (LBI) project, the first of its kind for the Philippine government to implement by building and operating its own submarine cable landing stations.

Under the project, the social media giant Facebook will be the first party to use the said infrastructure, thereby benefitting millions of internet users with faster connectivity.

“The signing of the Landing Party Agreement or LPA between the DICT, BCDA, and EDGE for the Philippine government’s first cable landing stations under the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure Project is a major milestone in the history of ICT development in our country,” said DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña during the formal unveiling on November 15 in Taguig City.

The project will pave the way to building an ultra high-speed Internet backbone for the entire country by the end of 2019 where Internet speed can go up to 100 Mbps.

BCDA will build the LBI made up of two cable landing stations that are connected by a 250-kilometer long cable network corridor. On the other hand, Facebook as the first user will construct and operate a submarine cable system that will land in the cable stations on the east and west coasts of Luzon. This cable link will provide direct access from the Luzon grid to Internet hubs in the United States and Asia.

Further, Facebook will provide the Philippine government with a bandwidth of at least 2 million Mbps (or 2 Tbps) that is almost similar to the bandwidth being provided by the leading telecommunications companies in the country.

For its part, the DICT will operate the LBI and maintain the related facilities and provide last mile connectivity in the Philippines for a period of 25 years.

Sec. de la Peña disclosed that under this agreement, the Pacific Light Cable Network, a trans-Pacific fiber optic submarine cable system managed by EDGE, will be provided a “terrestrial bypass route” across Luzon through infrastructure to be built by the BCDA. The cable will enter and exit the country through government cable landing stations in Baler, Aurora and San Fernando, La Union, respectively. This bypass route will provide diversity and redundancy to the usual route of submarine cables crossing the Pacific.

The LPA signing is the result of years of planning, discussions and negotiations among stakeholders. Tracing back the events, the linkage was first made through the efforts of the Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) of the DOST and the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO), which was then under the DOST. The DOST-ASTI, through its PREGINET initiative, worked to establish strategic linkages in pursuit of its advocacy for an open, reliable, and efficient connectivity for supporting research, education, and innovation. EDGE was one of those important linkages.

According to the science chief, the government program will provide international connections to local businesses and strengthen the country's digital bridge to the rest of the world. While the signing of the LPA is a major step in that direction, there is still the need to complement this with efforts on last mile infrastructure and in promoting local Internet exchanges which the government is doing via the Free Wi-Fi, iGov, and PHOpenIX initiatives.

“In ending, we have long recognized that an efficient and affordable ICT is a key ingredient in boosting our country’s global competitiveness,” Sec. de la Peña said. “We have heard about how ICT technologies and applications have enabled our neighbors to achieve even more economic growth and prosperity. We have seen how societies and communities have flourished through better, faster and more pervasive connectivity.”

“This, too, is our aspiration for our country. Moreover, it is our commitment to our people,” Sec. de la Peña concluded.

Present during the signing of the LPA were (Ret.) National Security Adviser General Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Jose Ruperto Martin Andanar, DICT Undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr., Presidential Adviser on Economic Affairs Ramon Jacinto, BCDA President and CEO Vince Hizon, BCDA Board Chairperson Gregorio D. Garcia, EDGE Sourcing Manager for Asia and the Pacific Nico Roehrich, and EDGE Phil Policy Head Anne Marie Carominas.  (S&T Media Service/PR)




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