By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) signed a deal with the local subsidiary of Singapore-based HyalRoute Group last week to roll out a fiber optic cable network in the country.

In a statement on Monday, the DICT said it inked on May 2 the memorandum of agreement (MoA) with Philippine Fiber Optic Cable Network Ltd., Inc. (PFOCN), a subsidiary of HyalRoute. HyalRoute is described as a leading provider of shared communication fiber network in emerging Asia.

The DICT said PFOCN’s investment in the fiber optic cable network is valued at between $1 billion to $2 billion, which will be staggered between 2019 to 2028.

Under the agreement, PFOCN will install fiber optic network cables that may be utilized for DICT’s Free WiFi project and National Broadband Program. For its part, the government will assist the company in securing permits and licenses for its rollout.

“PFOCN will invest in rolling out fiber optics cable nationwide, which they will then lease or rent out to telcos, ISPs (internet service providers), cable TV operators, from backbone, middle mile and last mile (fiber to the home). Preferential rates will be available to the government for its Free WiFi and National Broadband Program,” DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said in a text message.

He noted having PFOCN in the country will address the need to extend the fiber optic network to rural areas. which local telcos are unable to do at the moment because of its “non-viability.”

“If telcos and other players will just rent for the use of Fiber Optic cable laid down by a common provider, it becomes viable to telcos and other players to just rent and the provider can recover its ROI (return on investment) from these rentals. It will also greatly help in the government’s rollout of its Free WiFi Project and the National Broadband Program,” Mr. Rio added.

The rollout of PFOCN in the country will be spread across phases starting this year through 2028.

HyalRoute Chairman Huang Xinglong was quoted in the DICT statement as saying: “We believe this investment project will greatly improve the status of communication infrastructure, particularly fiber network, while improving broadband penetration rate and speed to meet the needs of the general public.”