Through the National Broadband Program (NBP), the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s (DICT) will deploy broadband capacity across the nation, especially in areas that are remote, inaccessible, and considered unprofitable by the private sector. With this, the government will have access to cheaper and more reliable Internet services that will reduce government spending on Internet subscription.

This will begin to happen once the first phase of the DICT NBP is completed. Through the program, government agencies can avail Internet service at 50 pesos per megabits per second (Mbps) of Internet bandwidth per month.

At present, government offices spend around three hundred fifty (P350.00) per Megabits per second of Internet bandwidth per month. This means that an average size agency which requires a hundred (100) Mbps shared Internet connectivity across a whole building spends around thirty-five thousand pesos (P35,000) per month, or four hundred thousand pesos (P420,000.00) a year.

With the NBP, an average office would now only spend five thousand pesos (P5,000.00) a month, or sixty thousand pesos (P60,000) a year for the same speed—saving the taxpayers money that can be used for other programs and projects, and in improving social services.

The DICT expects the government to save 720 Million Pesos in Internet subscription expenses in the first year of implementation of the NBP.

For Phase 1, the DICT will activate the Cable Landing station in Baler, Aurora and connect to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) Node in San Fernando La Union through the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure. DICT will then activate and light up of 4 DICT nodes and 15 NGCP nodes that will connect with the various DICT equipment. From there, we will be able to provide bandwidth to nearby govnet clients and Free-WiFi beneficiaries.

A part of DICT’s connect-connect-connect initiative, the NBP is the government’s blueprint to accelerate the deployment of fiber optic cables and wireless technologies across the country to provide broader, faster, and more affordable access to the Internet for Filipinos.

By 2022, if the DICT’s additional budget request of approximately 17 Billion Pesos for Fiscal Year 2021 is approved, the proposed Phase 2 of the NBP will cover Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao posing a projected savings of around 34 billion pesos in government Internet expense.

In perspective, neighboring countries with similar initiatives, such as Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand allotted significantly higher budgets for their National Broadband Network. Indonesia is reported to have allocated over 22 billion US dollars (1.07 trillion pesos) for its 5-year national broadband plan, while Australia and New Zealand allocated around 37 billion US dollars (1.79 trillion pesos), and 1.19 billion US dollars (58 billion pesos), respectively. Other countries such as Singapore are improving their systems by spending around 550 million US dollars (26.72 billion pesos) and opening up their network to all service providers.

“President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive is very clear- to improve Internet connectivity in the Philippines to help the Filipino people better adapt to the new normal. That is why the DICT is doubling its efforts in accelerating the implementation of various digital connectivity initiatives, especially the National Broadband Program,” DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said.

“We can expect that by the end of 2020, Phase 1 of the NBP will begin operations, and by 2021, we can already feel the effects of said initiative,” he added.