MANILA -- The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has formally proposed a budget of PHP 2 billion next year for the implementation of the National Broadband Program (NBP) in the country.

The DICT said the budget will accelerate the rollout of the NBP, which is seen to improve the quality, as well as bring down the cost of Internet services to the public.

House Committee Chair on ICT Cong. Victor Yap, Deputy Speaker Cong. Arthur Yap, and Appropriations Committee Cong. Joey Salceda have expressed their willingness to endorse the program's proposed budget.

“We must pick up from our achievements we’ve had this year, so we are grateful for the support of our representatives. We hope other members of the Congress can support the initiative, which is now on its crucial stage,” DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said in a statement Friday.

“We are convinced that the NBP can finally get rid of our country’s long standing issue of poor and costly Internet connection. The DICT is ready, capable, and determined to spearhead this initiative, as proven by our recent actions. We should get our acts together as public servants and not waste any more time”, he added.

The DICT official said the budget will fast-track the implementation of the NBP as the department has signed two tripartite agreements to commence the operation.

Last June, the department has signed an agreement with the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) and the National Transmission Corporation (TransCo) for the utilization of its 6,154 kilometer dark fiber network spanning from Luzon to Mindanao.

The DICT has likewise signed a deal last August with the National Electrification Authority (NEA) and Philippine Rural Cooperatives Association, Inc. (PHILRECA) in tapping electric cooperatives as partners for middle mile connectivity.

The department is also eyeing to have an agreement with cable operators to serve as a viable last mile connectivity in the different parts of the country.

The budget will cover the operation of the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure (LBI), which will connect to the fiber optic cables of TransCo.

The LBI will provide a bypass route for international submarine cable systems from the Luzon Strait, which is prone to multiple simultaneous submarine cable breaks.

A submarine cable system will be installed that will land on the cable stations and provide direct connections from Luzon to Internet hubs in the United States and Asia.

The infrastructure will expand the capacity available for the government’s information and communications technology (ICT) projects, such as the National Broadband Plan, National Government Portal, and the Free Public WiFi program.

The lighting-up of the TransCo-owned grid and interconnection to the electric cooperatives, which will serve as distribution networks for the 2 million megabits per second of data capacity from the LBI to the far-flung areas, are also covered in the proposed budget.

The DICT said it is set to conduct its pilot testing of the dark fiber grid by November to December this year.

Seven point-to-point routes in Benguet, Tarlac, Pampanga, Batangas, Mindoro, Albay, Camarines Sur, Cagayan, and Bohol were identified for the pilot project, which is aimed to test both the integrity of NGCP fiber optic cables and the latest optical transport technologies in the market.

The DICT added that it expects the NBP to improve connectivity across the country as it aims to tap existing ICT infrastructures, which saves government significant time and money while ensuring huge economic return, projected within a two-year period. (PNA)