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DICT-NEA AGREEMENT ON ‘GRASSROOTS’ BROADBAND INTERNET ACCESS TO BOOST COUNTRYSIDE DEVELOPMENT — PIMENTEL

Senator Koko Pimentel III praised a newly-signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on broadband Internet access between the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the National Electrification Administration (NEA) and one of the largest electric coop groups in the country as “a milestone that will boost modernization and development in the countryside.”

DICT, NEA and the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. (PHILRECA) inked a deal last August 17 formalizing their tripartite collaboration “to realize the objectives of the National Broadband Program (NBP), including but not limited to the co-use of fiber optic cables.”

Under the agreement, NEA and PHILRECA will spearhead coordination with electric coops on the NBP project implementation.

The DICT, on the other hand, will work on allowing access to ECs’ existing nodes for linking with other government agencies.

“For all of these to happen, we first need to broaden the infrastructure and network, and that’s where this partnership between the DICT, NEA and electric coops comes in.”

Pimentel, who chairs the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, remarked that it was crucial for the government to lead the initiative at bringing internet access to the countryside and to engage grassroots organizations such as electric coops as partners in its NBP push.

“I’m all for developing a mature trading atmosphere in the provinces based on entrepreneurship. With better and more widespread internet access, we can fully develop e-commerce among small and medium scale enterprises, and even home and family-based entrepreneurial ventures,” the senator from Mindanao said.

The lawmaker further remarked that “for all of these to happen, we first need to broaden the infrastructure and network, and that’s where this partnership between the DICT, NEA and electric coops comes in.”

Pimentel made mention of a World Band-funded Mindanao Jobs Report released in 2017 which concluded that very slow internet speed coupled with high cost of access were major limitations on Mindanao’s economic potentials, and reforms to improve connectivity could promote greater job growth in Mindanao as well as create opportunities for Internet-based delivery of health and education services in remote communities.

“I’m all for developing a mature trading atmosphere in the provinces based on entrepreneurship.”

For his part, PHILRECA President Presley De Jesus, one of the signatories of the tripartite MOU, noted that ECs “are more than ready to assist the government in this widespread broadband campaign.”

The National Association of General Managers of Electric Cooperatives (NAGMEC), meanwhile, which often partners with PHILRECA on energy sector-related campaigns and initiatives, expressed elation at the DICT’s recognition of the ECs’ capacity to lead the implementation of the NBP.

“ECs are state-regulated entities that prioritize public service over profit. Universal Internet access through broadband should be a government responsibility, and the DICT’s tapping of ECs is a definite boost to all parties concerned, with ultimate benefits to people in the countryside very much wanting access to cheap, reliable Internet service,” NAGMEC President Sergio Dagooc emphasized.

 

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