The Philippines is all set to get a new Government Broadband Network (GBN) provided if all goes well with a project proposal to be headed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Mario Montejo.
Considering the controversial past for an earlier National-wide Broadband Network (NBN), which almost threatened then President Arroyo’s government, it would do well for GBN proponents to handle it with care.
The earlier proposal for NBN was handled by the Department of Transportation and Communications and was lead by Romulo Neri, the Philippines’ top economist. A controversial deal was signed with China-based ZTE (amidst allegations of commissions and kickbacks reaching high-ranking officials), along with the fact that it was a high-budget project costing close to US$330 million.
The proposed GBN, on the other hand, is projected to cost much less, at around US$20 million. Considering that the government spends US$45 million for internet connectivity, this DOST-proposed project will cost the government less than half its curreant budget outlay for the high-speed internet connectivity and related capabilities for data processing, computing, and storage.
The GBN Project Specifications The government network proposal consists of 3 scenarios along with the present one, offering three Gbps of capacity varying from 12.8 Gbps for a second scenario; 25.6 Gbps for a third scenario and 40 Gbps for a fourth scenario.
The government proposal hopes to achieve complete independency from private-owned internet service providers, which not only burden the exchequer but also lead to unnecessary conflicts.
Following the sea of controversy the exNBN caused in President Arroyo’s tenure, the current President Aquino is exercising great caution and control on this project. At the end of June 2011, under the President’s signed Executive Order 47, the Commission on Information and Communications (CICT) was placed under the direct control of DOST. In fact, CICT has now been rechristened as the Information and Communications Technologies Office, and it has brought along two agencies to DOST with which it was previously associated – the National Computer Center and the Telecommunications Office (TELOF).
The transfer of all these agencies to DOST is largely because they were all part of the previous NBN-ZTE deal. Hence CICT and TELOF are now well-monitored, since the Secretary of DOST Mr. Montejo is well-connected with President Aquino.
DOST itself has now become the agency handling the project, and the Department of Transportation and Communications is no longer involved. Thus, with its expertise it is well poised to handle the $US20 million government broadband project competently in order to usher in greater technical competency to President Aquino’s government.
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