• NGCP transmission towers eyed for internet backbone

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    THE government is looking to tap the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines’ (NGCP) transmission line towers for a fiber optic infrastructure that would link government offices in the country via the internet, a ranking energy official said.

    Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) chairman Jose Vicente Salazar told reporters that making use of the NGCP’s towers as an internet backbone for government offices is now being undertaken by an office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

    He said that the DOST’s Information and Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO) recommended to the ERC a few weeks ago that the towers be put to another use, this time for government internet connectivity.

    “This is now an initiative which is being undertaken by the ICTO. The ICTO did not even engage an external entity to undertake this. ICTO is undertaking this project so that through internet penetration, not just in the government offices in the National Capital Region, they intend to connect even the local government offices using this backbone,” Salazar said.

    Salazar said the ERC is not involved in approving of the initiative. “We’re just assisting ICTO so that NGCP will actually sit down with them and discuss this matter with them in terms of allowing the ICTO to access the facilities.”

    Right now, he sees no costs to be shouldered by the government because the transmission lines are still owned by the government and the fiber optics can actually be used by the government without affecting the operations of the NGCP.

    “Hopefully ICTO will be able to give a proposal which will be acceptable to the NGCP. And once that project is implemented we will have lower costs for the internet service of the government bureaucracy,” he added.

    “Now if they link these areas where there is already internet penetration through the NGCP facilities, then mas extensive ang magiging coverage nila, [their coverage will be more extensive]” he said.

    The ERC chair said he has already discussed the issue with NGCP president Henry Sy Jr. last week and that the NGCP) reportedly fully supports this initiative.

    “In fact, he [Sy] designated one of his personnel to coordinate with us and ICTO so this particular issue can be handled and that the project can proceed as planned,” he said.

    As of the timeline of the project, Salazar said that the facilities are already there and it would merely require expansion.

    “There’s an allocation in the 2015-2016 budget for this and also for the 2016 budget for this. So it’s just a matter of utilizing that right now, linking with the appropriate agency, and calling the necessary facilities to link the internet facilities, and ensure that internet penetration will be higher,” he added.

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