DICT sets national fiber backbone target for 2021

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) aims to complete 28 nodes under Phase 1 of the National Fiber Backbone (NFB) by the year, a ranking official said.

DICT Undersecretary Emmanuel R. Caintic told a Senate committee hearing that the agency was ready to upgrade digital infrastructure in the northern and central parts of Luzon by the end of 2021.

“We aim to activate 28 nodes within the framework of ONF phase 1 from Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Bulacan, Zambales to NCR [National Capital Region], he told senators on Monday.

Phase 1 of the ONF consists of turning on the fiber on the national electricity transmission networks in order to provide Internet connectivity to people in the transmission area.

It is part of the larger national broadband plan, which, in a nutshell, will help democratize internet access, especially in remote and underserved areas.

In addition to ONF phase 1, the agency, according to Caintic, also aims to deploy 4,463 free Wi-Fi sites across the country by the end of 2021.

“Likewise, we will continue to provide free wifi sites to more than 4,000 public places, in particular vaccination centers,” he said.

At the same hearing, senators approved DICT’s proposed budget of 34.63 billion pesos for plenary discussion. The said proposal includes the 8.4 billion pesos unused in spectrum fees, a special account in its general fund.

DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said government should better “appreciate” the value and importance of digital transformation initiatives today, as they play a key role in helping people weather the pandemic .

“We have observed that the whole ecosystem is limited in the appreciation of the ICT-based connectivity that will allow us to manage effectively and proactively. The government has yet to fully understand that ICT is the future, especially during the pandemic, ”he said.

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