The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) accelerated the build out of a supplemental infrastructure, called the “resiliency route”, for Phase 1 of the National Broadband Program (NBP) as part of its efforts to future-proof the implementation of the government-owned broadband network.   

“The establishment of a resiliency route serves as insurance or safety net against any unforeseen issues or in the event that may cause delay for the completion of the project. This endeavor is part of our efforts to future-proof the National Broadband Program to ensure continuity of the national ICT agenda. It is our goal to ensure that the strides we have made in the current administration will serve as leverage for the initiatives of our future leaders to further advance the national ICT agenda,”Secretary Gregorio “Gringo” B. Honasan II said.   

The resiliency route, connected to Singapore, serves as an alternate route in the Asia Region. It also serves as a backup or redundancy connection to ensure continuous connectivity for the NBP in the case of any disruptions in the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN), which is currently connected to the NBP’s cable landing station in Baler, Aurora and to Los Angeles, California.

Under the NBP, the cable landing stations connected to the program’s cable landing stations, or the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure (LBI), provide the international connection for the national fiber backbone. 

The resiliency route is expected to support and initially benefit the country’s metropolitan centers for commercial, financial, and administrative activities. These include Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao.

“Central to our efforts to rebuild the national economy — which was severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic — is providing fast, reliable and affordable digital connectivity to the country’s centers of economic activities,” Secretary Honasan said. 

“Of course, complementing this, we are also strengthening the deployment and build-out of ICT infrastructures in less urbanized and rural areas in the country, especially in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA sites),” he added. 

The NBP aims to establish a government-owned broadband network to provide Filipinos faster, wider-reaching, and more affordable Internet services. The DICT partnered with the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) to procure the National Fiber Backbone Phase 1 Project in early 2021.

“The DICT aims to provide fast, reliable and affordable digital connectivity to our fellow kababayans so that everyone will be able to participate in the digital economy. We are following a two-prong approach to realize this objective. First, to create and impose regulations, and second, to implement catalyticprograms such as this,” Undersecretary Emmanuel Rey Caintic explained. 

“The DICT is also aware that the need for connectivity transcends beyond the timeline of this current health crisis we are in. It is with this mindset that we gladly launch the National Broadband Program Plan Resiliency Route, making us a step closer towards the vision of a pervasive, resilient and robust broadband network that can reach the farthest islands to bring digitized public services to all citizens,” Assistant Secretary Kristoffer L. Tiansay added.

The NBP Phase 1, which will be completed by the end of the year, involves activating 28 nodes of the national fiber backbone located in 12 provinces in Luzon. Meanwhile, the final phase is expected to be completed in 2025. This is despite limited funding to fast track the completion of the program. 

For 2021, the NBP received around 1.9 billion pesos in funding— far lower than DICT’s target budget of 18 billion pesos to complete the NBP within 2 to 3 years. 

“Despite limited funding for the implementation of the NBP, your DICT actively studied other means to continue, and even speed up the construction of the national broadband network, ” Secretary Honasan stated.