NEA, DICT work to expand broadband access to rural areas

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NEA, DICT work to expand broadband access to rural areas

THE National Electrification Administration (NEA) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) have started exploring arrangements to bring broadband connectivity into the countryside by tapping the existing infrastructure of the electric cooperatives.

In a statement, NEA Administrator Edgardo R. Masongsong said he had met with officials of DICT headed by Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. and Undersecretary Denis F. Villorente to discuss the expansion of broadband access to households in rural areas.

Mr. Rio was quoted as saying that the discussion “is very important because NEA has already access to 95% of households, especially in rural areas.”

He added that the electric cooperatives (ECs) supervised by the NEA could be Internet service providers (ISPs) in their respective coverage areas.

“We’ll give you the Internet access and you can bring it to your client. Then, they can now enjoy their electricity and they have Internet access. This is also an added income,” Mr. Rio said.

Mr. Masongsong said some electric cooperatives, particularly those in Mindanao, already have fiber-optic infrastructure in place.

During their meeting, NEA and DICT agreed to form a technical working group that will draft the framework agreement, which will include the financial arrangement with the ECs with existing fiber-optic cables in their distribution lines and possible funding for power utilities that do not have fiber on their grid.

The meeting follows the signing on June 8, 2018 of a tripartite agreement among the DICT, power grid system operator National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) and power transmission owner National Transmission Corp. (TransCo) for the use of spare optical fiber to accelerate the implementation of the government’s broadband plan.

Under the agreement, the DICT is given the right to use or access certain spare fiber-optic cores, vacant lots, tower spaces and related facilities of the NGCP, the concessionaire of TransCo-owned transmission assets.