ICT-Davao pushes BBL passage

THE Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-Davao Council is pushing for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and amendments to policy framework on the congressional franchise imposed to telecommunication sector for a faster and more cost-effective Internet connectivity in Mindanao.

Samuel Matunog, ICT-Davao president, said at the sidelines of the Livelihood Exchange (Livex) 2015 on Wednesday that as the groundbreaking of the cable system project that will interconnect four countries comprising the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga) sub-economic region, measures should be undertaken to ensure security for investors and fair competition among telecommunication players.

"Our hope is that peace process will enable us to have a platform for us to discuss how we can make Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (Armm) to be the gateway for the rest of Mindanao and even the whole Philippines to enjoy faster and cost -effective broadband Internet," he said.

The Best Cable System, initiated by Best Cable Corp. Pte. Ltd. (BCC), "is a regional 5,092 kilometer high bandwidth fiber optics cable system that allows telecommunication connectivity in the BIMP-Eaga region with the rest of the Asean.

It will link BIMP-Eaga region specifically Brunei, Sabah, Malaysia, Southern Philippines and Kalimantan in Indonesia, with extension to Guam. The project has five segments. At present the interconnectivity is now nearly completion on the second and third segment.

The connectivity to Mindanao which will be in Parang, Maguindanao is under the fourth segment.

"The cable system project is now in the process of completing the connection from Brunei to Sabah," he said, adding that after which, it will be connected to Malaysia to Guam, the same connection that will be tapped for connection to Southern Philippines, particularly in Parang, Maguindanao," he said.

The project will be connected to Parang because the Philippine private sector proponent of the Best cable project which is EA Trilink has a telecommunication franchise in the ARMM. The cable system once operational, which is eyed in 2017, will initially serve the ARMM alone.

Matunog said that they are now finding ways on how to get the bandwidth outside of the Armm and beyond so that eventually competitive advantage of the faster and cost-effective internet connection will be realized.

"It is a great challenge for us on how to materialize the bandwidth to the rest of Mindanao, peace process and some changes on policies on congressional franchise are really essential for the realization of our goal. It is not a case of no technology or players or investors, but it is the peace status and policy framework that will hindrance us from achieving our aim," Matunog said.

He added that the ICT councils of Davao and Palawan had already agreed with the Memorandum of Cooperation to utilize the bandwidth the Best cable system will provide.

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