BIMP-EAGA cable project to improve Internet in ARMM

Posted on August 12, 2015

DAVAO CITY -- The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will be the first to benefit from the BIMP-EAGA Submarine and Terrestrial (BEST) Cable Project, a high bandwidth cable system that will provide cheaper telecommunication and Internet services.

BIMP-EAGA -- the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area -- is a sub-regional grouping of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that is aiming to strengthen economic ties and promote itself as a single market within the integrated ASEAN Economic Community, which takes full effect in December.

The BEST Cable Project, also called the BIMP-EAGA Rink, will be launched in Davao City on Aug. 19 during the three-day 3rd BIMP-EAGA Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Infrastructure Cluster Meeting.

The Rink is being undertaken by BESTCable Corp. Pte. Ltd, a consortium composed of Brunei International Gateway Sdn Bhd, Sabah Economic Development Corp. Communication Sdn Bhd, and Mindanao’s EA Trilink Corp., which holds a telecommunications franchise in the ARMM.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Mindanao link will be held in Parang, Maguindanao in the ARMM within the first quarter of 2016 and target completion date is set for 2018.

“This will make ARMM’s Internet rates cheaper by two-thirds than what we are paying now,” said lawyer Samuel R. Matunog, ICT Davao President.

ICT-Davao and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) signed last week a memorandum of agreement that paves the way for the P2.7-million funding for the ICT Cluster Meeting.

“ICT is one of the sectors for cooperation and collaboration among the BIMP-EAGA member economies and is a key enabler for socioeconomic development and integration in the region,” Mr. Matunog said.

NTC Region 9 Director Edgardo R. Celorico said the cable system will eventually be expanded to other parts of Mindanao.

The BIMP-EAGA Rink is a 5,092-kilometer cable system that will run through Sabah in Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Mindanao in the Philippines, Kalimantan in Indonesia, and link to other ASEAN countries as well as Guam and the United States mainland.

The cables will start in Brunei and Sabah, then connected to Kota Kinabalu and Tawau, which is near the Philippines. The lines that will link Brunei and Malaysia are terrestrial while that in Parang, Maguindanao will use submarine cables.

“The project will establish a more reliable Internet connectivity in Mindanao, which is being positioned as a strategic location for BPO (business process outsourcing) companies,” Romeo M. Montenegro, director of investment promotions and public affairs of the Mindanao Development Authority, said earlier.

The BEST Cable Project is one of the three project major projects included in the BIMP-EAGA Implementation Blueprint for 2012-2016. The two others are the Intelligent Clearance Identification System (ICLID) and the ICT Outreach Program (IROP).

The ICLID will use Radio-Frequency Identification technology and provide cross-border solutions to ease the movement of goods and vehicles within the sub-region. The system has been installed at Sungai Tujoh and Kuala Lurah in Brunei Darussalam, and in Miri and Limbang in Sarawak.

The IROP is an outreach program that aims to improve ICT literacy within rural communities through the construction of computer telecenters with e-Learning models and mobile applications. Around 30 pilot sites for the telecenters, each to have 20 computers, have been identified in the ARMM. -- Carmencita A. Carillo