Strong collaboration among cable operators needed to boost Mindanao’s Internet speed

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 Aug) – A strong collaboration among the cable operators in the Philippines will be necessary to fully maximize the additional one-terabyte bandwidth as a result of the fiber optic submarine cable that will link up Mindanao to the rest of the world, said Dr. Alfredo C. Panizales, executive vice president of Best Cable Corporation (BCC).

He said this at the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Chief Executive Officers’ Conference during the Livelihood Exchange Philippines 2015 at that the SMX Convention Center Davao on Wednesday.

The additional capacity will be initially exclusive to Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) where EA Trilink, the project’s proponent in the Philippines, got its franchise.

Panizales emphasized the need for local cable operators to bring the bandwidth out to the rest of Mindanao, otherwise the extra Internet boost will remain only in the underserved autonomous region.

The additional capacity is seen to make Internet speed faster and making it more cost efficient.

“How to interconnect with cable networks is a big challenge to regulators,” Panizales said.

He explained the BCC will only provide the bandwidth but it will be the cable operators and giant telephone companies who would spread it to other parts of the country.

“BCC will provide the bandwidth across the country through other providers,” he said. “Satellite will be a major component (for this project).”

Mindanao’s bandwidth is tapped in Luzon, which results in lower Internet speed due to its distance to the source. But with the fiber optics’ headend located in Parang, Maguindanao, Internet speed is seen to get better once completed by middle of 2017.

This headend will tap the 5,000-kilometer submarine cable that connects Tawau, Malaysia and Guam. Brunei and Malaysia have already been connected through a terrestrial structure.

In a separate interview, Jasmi Adnan Thien, president and chief executive officer of BCC, said they have seen a huge market for Internet in the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), considering that there are areas in this sub-region that remain to be underserved.

“Best Cable System is seen as one single class that will connect Asean with the US. This will help bring down the pricing in the underserved BIMP-EAGA,” he said.

Thien said they are willing to partner with the giant telcos. But with or without the telcos, they will continue servicing the sub-region to eradicate the digital divide among the member nations.

He said this project will stir competition among the cable and telephone companies that will result in an Internet cost that is more efficient for local consumers.

Atty. Samuel Matunog, president of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Davao, said the existing few broadband providers can dictate the pricing for lack of competition. With the fiber optic cable, more players will come into play, he noted.

The project will specifically benefit the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), Matunog said.

“Through this project, we are thinking of ways how the innovators will be provided to access broadband for innovation purpose,” he said.

Earlier, Matunog said the fiber optic cable project will position the Maguindanao as the next Business Process Outsourcing hub of the Philippines, which will generate employment for the Bangsamoro people. To sustain a booming business environment, he underscored the need for peace and development initiatives in war-torn ARMM.