• DICT, NGCP to team up for broadband deal


    The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has committed to partner with National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) on using the latter’s dark fiber optic cables as the backbone of the government’s National Broadband Plan.

    This despite National Transmission Corp.’s (TransCo) insistence on participating in negotiations for the use of the cables, which facilitate real-time communication between transmission facilities, and with power generators and distribution utilities.

    In a statement on Tuesday, DICT Officer-in-Charge Eliseo Rio Jr. said the cables would be used until the NGCP’s concession agreement ends in 2034.

    “Who owns the [cables]of NGCP/TransCo? [Once these are] turned over to TransCo, whatever agreement [made]with NGCP may be modified, changed or reviewed by TransCo,” Rio said.

    NGCP said it would sign any deal until the concession agreement ends.

    If the concession is extended, the bilateral agreement will be extended, too, it added.

    “NGCP will not object to any separate agreement [that]DICT [may sign]with TransCo, [as]long as the exclusive rights of the company in relation to transmission and related businesses for the entire duration of its concession are upheld,” the grid operator said.

    Asked to comment, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said he had told the parties involved to sign a tripartite agreement to avoid conflicts and delays in implementing the broadband plan.

    Based on documents he had read, TransCo owns the transmission facilities, he said on Monday.

    This came after the NGCP expressed willingness earlier this month to sign a deal with DICT to support the government project.

    NGCP said then it would let the government use the cables at no cost to show that, “contrary to some
    allegations,” it “has always been willing and eager to participate in the government’s efforts to develop a national broadband network.”

    Any “arrangement with a private entity will…be subject to commercial negotiations,” it added.

    Republic Act 9136, or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (Epira), dictates that a portion of revenues from a company’s use of transmission assets for non-transmission purposes must go into lowering transmission rates.

    “But if it is for government’s direct use and operation, we will give it for free,” NGCP said.


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