THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) clarified Saturday that the National Broadband Program (NBP) will not directly compete with big telecommunications companies (telcos), but it will allow smaller players to compete.

Undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said that through the NBP, smaller firms will be able to monetize the bandwidth that they will earn from the government “because their subscription cost will be much lower than the big telcos.”

“So indirectly, the NBP would be competing with the big telcos through the small players, but it will definitely bring down the cost of fast and reliable internet connectivity in this country,” he said in a Facebook post on May 16.

He said that the “middle and last mile” in various parts of the NBP will be built by small telcos, Internet service providers, community antenna television operators, community networks, and cooperatives, in exchange for government bandwidth.

“We will soon post in our website an invitation to interested parties to submit Letters of Interest (LoI) to do the middle and last mile in various parts of the NBP, and if selected, will sign an offsetting agreement, meaning DICT will remunerate them with Bandwidth capacity for use of the infrastructure they set up for the NBP. We will also be leasing existing middle and last mile where needed and pay the lease also in an offsetting arrangement,” Mr Rio added.

He said that Converge ICT Solutions, Inc., Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp., and Domestic Satellite Philippines, Inc. have already shown interest in the arrangement.

Mr. Rio said that instead of subscribing and paying commercial telcos for the bandwidth needed to connect government offices, the NBP will allow the government to use its own bandwidth.

“This will come from the 2Tbps (terabits per second) bandwidth capacity that we will get from Facebook for letting them use our Luzon Bypass Infrastructure, a Project actually started in 2015 by BCDA (the Bases Conversion and Development Authority),” he said.

Developing the NBP was one of the directives of President Rodrigo R. Duterte during his State of the Nation Address in 2016, with the intent of improving Internet speeds via the rollout of fiber optic networks and wireless technology. — Genshen L. Espedido