PLDT boosts Bohol connectivity with fiber optic network

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014


TAGBILARAN City-Aside from its flourishing tourism industry, Bohol's economy is expected to benefit from an emerging business process management sector after Tagbilaran City was identified as a next wave city in 2012. Aiding in that cause is the launch of a P700 million fiber optic network that connects the province to main links in Cebu and Cagayan de Oro.

PLDT unveiled its domestic fiber optic network (DFON) project in Bohol yesterday during the province's celebration of its 160th founding anniversary, which promises "unmatched domestic connectivity" for both fixed and wireless services throughout the country.

PLDT president and chief executive officer Napoleon Nazareno, who was keynote speaker in yesterday's founding anniversary celebration, said the project will enable them to provide extensive high-speed Internet services to households and businesses.

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"For Bohol, fiber will help bring you more business and better jobs. With PLDT's fiber network, Gov. Chatto will be able to attract more call center and outsourcing companies that can hire many more of the graduates being produced by the universities and colleges of Bohol. Tagbilaran can really become another ICT center of the country," he said.

Improvements

He added that with the infrastructure in place, tourism establishments can run more efficiently using cloud services through high speed Internet and improve the guest experience.

"With fiber, Bohol can further improve its educational system because schools and students can access rich learning material available on the worldwide web. Government can further improve its performance by providing citizens access to online government services," he said.

PLDT assistant vice president for network planning and engineering Arvin Siena explained in a briefing Monday night that they consider their DFON as the backbone of their company. "It is the pride of PLDT. It is the biggest advantage we have against our competition because it is the telecom backbone of the Philippines. Even other carriers are riding over this infrastructure," he said.

Siena said their fiber optic network is connected through several loops to ensure resiliency. If one connection is cut, the data passes through another link so that communication is seamless.

To be completed in four phases, the Bohol DFON project aims to bring the whole range of PLDT services to the entire province, including to individual households by laying out a total of 328 kilometers of submarine and inland fiber optic cables running from Cebu to Misamis Oriental. This network, Siena said, enables transformation and will change the way Boholanos live, use the Internet and their devices, similar to the way people in major cities do.

Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto said the improvements in the network infrastructure boost their effort to propel ICT-BPM in the province to complement their economy that is anchored on tourism and agro industry.

He said the project funded by the private sector shows the province has the right investment climate and is a desirable location, which he expects will improve the livelihoods and provide more jobs for Boholanos.

He admitted that their Internet connection was a stumbling block in getting ICT investments into the province. He believes it will take off very soon, in time with other developments being planned for the province.

The first phase of the project can allow 160,000 call center seats to operate, 41 million points of sale transactions to occur and 5.1 million ATM transactions to happen.

Construction on the Bohol DFON project began in October last year and was interrupted by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit the province. Work resumed in November.

Coverage

The first phase covers Tagbilaran City, where 95 percent of their 5,000 DSL subscribers are located, and includes the towns of Valencia, Corella and Panglao. Currently, the province is 100 percent covered by 3G. Eight sites have LTE mobile and home coverage while seven sites in Panglao and Tagbilaran are covered by FTTH. They have 37 sites covered for DSL. They have 600,000 mobile subscribers.

Siena said faster connections and capacity will allow for more small and medium enterprises to thrive and more investors to look at Bohol as an investment destination. He added that it will also benefit tourism, as visitors are keen to stay connected throughout their visit. Last year, more than 380,000 tourists visited the province.

An improved network also paves the way for other developments in Bohol, as an international airport and industrial park are in the works in the municipality of Panglao.

Siena said they are working with Gov. Chatto in identifying priority areas that needed the right infrastructure to spur development.

The project initially adds a 40G bandwidth capacity for PLDT and its subsidiary Smart Communications within Bohol, but with plans for added capacity in two to three years. This meant the laying out of 177 kilometers of underground fiber optic cable facilities, 151 kilometers of submarine fiber optic cables and provisioning for 180G transport capacity for the first phase of the project.

All this connects to the company's 85,000 kilometer fiber architecture, with the DFON capable of carrying data up to 5.13Tbps.

Before the project, Bohol's transport capacity was at 2.5G shared by both PLDT and Smart using radio microwaves. Siena said they can still use the system to back up the existing infrastructure.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 23, 2014.

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