CONNECTED. Cordillera leaders and Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo (5th from left) show the memorandum of agreement between the region and internet service provider Converge signed at the Baguio Convention Center on Friday (Sept. 17, 2021). The deal will provide internet connectivity even in remote mountain towns. (PNA photo by Liza Agoot)

BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) is expected to have a strong and reliable connectivity by 2023 after an internet service provider committed to provide a fiber-optic broadband network and a satellite global technology even in the most remote mountain towns.

Clarence Alvarado, the lead engineer of Metroworks ICT in charge of installing fiber optic cables, said Baguio, La Trinidad, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay (BLSTT) towns have been installed with several backbone cables, most of them active and reaching homes.

For Phase 1 installation that will be until January 2022, the lines will be in seven Benguet towns, six municipalities in Mountain Province, four towns in Kaling, and four in Abra, Alvarado said in a briefing after the signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) at the Baguio Convention Center on Friday.

By March 2022 until 2023, Alvarado said the cable lines would have reached Asipulo, Alfonso Lista, Kiangan, and Lagawe in Ifugao; Pudtol, Kabugao, and Flora in Apayao; Paracelis, Barlig, and Natonin in Mountain Province; Kabayan, Kapangan, and Kibungan in Benguet, including Banaue and Hingyon in Ifugao, for the last leg of the project which will be followed by the continuing expansion project to bring secondary lines in homes and offices.

Mountain Province Governor Bonifacio Lacwasan, in his speech after the MOA signing, said an improved communication network will not just allow the local governments to deliver better and faster services.

It will be beneficial as well to students and the community in general.

Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, who facilitated the inclusion of the Cordillera in the company’s expansion project, witnessed the signing activity.

Benguet Governor Melchor Diclas hopes for better performance of existing connectivity service.

“We are happy that the company included the Cordillera as an expansion project. It is a defining moment for the people of the Cordillera,” Tabuk City, Kalinga Mayor Darwin Estranero said.

Sagada Mayor James Pooten said their plan to reopen tourism will need internet service as they have an online registration portal to control the number of tourists.

He said their inclusion in the project will be of much help in economic recovery

Dennis Anthony Uy, chief executive officer of Converge, said in a recorded video message his company’s goal is to go to unserved and underserved areas.

Aakyatin namin ang mga bundok ng Cordillera para marating ang inyong mga probinsiya (We will climb the mountains of the Cordillera so that we can reach the provinces). We would like to build a world-class digital highway thru the Cordillera and support the growth and development of the provinces. We would like to see the Cordillera provinces beginning to use the technology to deliver the much-needed service to the people,” Uy said.

Considering the region’s terrain that will make installing fiber optic cables a challenge, a satellite global technology will be used to connect difficult-to-reach areas.

“It is my goal to bring connectivity to the majority of Filipino households and the MOA signing will bring us closer to reaching that goal,” he said. (PNA)