Electric cooperatives (ECs) are urged to form partnerships with cable television service providers and telecommunication companies to advance the government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP), which aims to “significantly” improve the internet service in the country.

Speaking at the NBP forum at the Grand Meng Seng Hotel in Davao City on February 15, Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio, Jr. of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said the collaboration would not only advance the program, but would also “benefit all parties and stakeholders.”

Rio pushed for the “convergence” of all industry stakeholders specifically the local cable television operators, electric cooperatives and telecommunication companies, not only to settle existing concerns among themselves, but to create more opportunities to help the government realize the goal of “inclusivity in the access to interconnectivity.”

“Interconnectivity will open doors of opportunity for our people. You should not allow the issues between you to drag the NBP down.”

“With the NBP, we hope to create a new class of OFWs, not the kind who need to leave the country for jobs abroad. Soon, as online trade and businesses flourish along with English language teachers for our Asian neighbors, Online Filipino Workers will rise and contribute more to the economy,” the DICT chief said.

“You should not allow the issues between you to drag the NBP down. The good of the greater number is bigger than what besets you.”

Cognizant of the prevailing issues among co-ops and cable tv operators indirectly affecting the implementation of the NBP in the rural areas, NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong urged all parties to “approach the issues with eyes opened to the opportunities the NBP offers, and with the good of the greater number in mind.”

“Interconnectivity will open doors of opportunity for our people. You should not allow the issues between you to drag the NBP down. The good of the greater number is bigger than what besets you,” the NEA Chief told those in attendance.

Masongsong also echoed the call of DICT for convergence among stakeholders as “the EPIRA Law allows for more elbow room for electric cooperatives to enter into partnerships and collaborative engagements with other industry participants.”

The NBP forum organized by the NEA was attended by Mindanao-based co-ops, cable operators, and representatives from DC Tech and other local technology providers for the remote metering, billing and teleconferencing needs of electric cooperatives in Mindanao and some parts of Luzon. It was aimed to provide a platform for ECs to discuss and address issues related to the implementation of the “last mile” of the program.

Also present during the forum were NEA Deputy Administrator Nikki Artis Tortola, Engr. Roderick Padua, manager of the NEA Information Technology and Communication Services Department (ITCSD), DICT Assistant Secretaries Ivin Ronald Alzona and Alan Silor, and Project Manager Alona Isidro. Rhett Roswell Mislang of the Energy Regulatory Commission was also there to provide valuable insights on the emerging developments on the NBP and their implications on the regulatory environment.

On August 17, 2018, DICT, NEA and the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. (PHILRECA) entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) “to realize the objectives of the NBP, including but not limited to the co-use of fiber optic cables.”

Under the agreement, the NEA and PHILRECA will coordinate with the ECs regarding the NBP project. The DICT, on the other hand, will be allowed to access the ECs’ existing nodes so that it may link with other government agencies. On June 8, 2018, the DICT, in its tripartite agreement with the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) and the National Transmission Corp. (TransCo), was given the right to use their dark fiber network.

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