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BCDA and DICT Philippines partnering with Facebook for high-speed Internet infrastructure project

The Department of Information and Communications Technology, Philippines (DICT) and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) launched the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure project on November 15 to build an ultra-high speed information highway that will greatly improve the speed, affordability and accessibility of broadband Internet throughout the country. It is expected to be online at the end of 2019.

DICT holds responsibility for planning, developing, and promoting the national ICT development agenda, while BCDA is a state-owned enterprise that is focused on developing former military assets, land assets in particular, into new centres for growth (Click here for OpenGov Interview with Vivencio B. Dizon, President and CEO of BCDA from May 2017.)

Luzon is the largest and most populous island in the Philippines. It is the economic and political centre of the nation, being home to the country's capital city, Manila, as well as Quezon City, the country's most populous city. The press release states that the Luzon Strait has a history of multiple simultaneous submarine cable breaks. The Luzon Bypass Infrastructure provides a terrestrial bypass route for international submarine cable owners seeking diversity from the Luzon Strait. BCDA will build the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure, consisting of two cable landing stations connected by a 250-km long cable network corridor.

DICT will operate the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure, maintain the related facilities and provide last mile connectivity in the Philippines for a period of 25 years.

Collaboration with Facebook

Facebook will the first party to utilise the Infrastructure and will construct and operate a submarine cable system that will land in the cable stations on the East and West Coasts of Luzon. The cable will provide direct connections from Luzon to Internet hubs in the United States and Asia.

In exchange for utilising the bypass infrastructure, Facebook will provide the Philippine Government with bandwidth equivalent to at least 2 million Mbps, significantly expanding the capacity available for the Government’s connectivity programs.

Faster, cheaper Internet among priority areas for Government

Faster and cheaper Internet is among the solutions being pushed by the current national administration as part of the 0+10 point agenda of the President, which includes priority programs to alleviate poverty, spur inclusive growth and development, and create jobs throughout the country.

Currently, Philippines has one of the slowest and most expensive Internet markets in the region. Earlier this year, DICT released a National Broadband Plan to accelerate the deployment of fiber optics cables and wireless technologies to improve Internet speed, following a working draft released in March. The Plan includes the establishment of the Philippine Integrated Infostructure (PhII), consisting of international submarine cable landing stations, national government backbone, and the last mile access network.

In line with that, this new broadband infrastructure is expected to significantly improve Internet speed and increase availability throughout the country to support the DICT’s flagship programmes to deliver free Wi-FI in public places nationwide, as well as online government services including for education and health.

Properties being developed by the BCDA, such as Clark and New Clark City, stand to benefit greatly from this project. New Clark City will be the country’s first smart, green and disaster-resilient metropolis that is envisioned to be one of the most liveable cities in the region.

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