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‘Dark fiber’ deal to hasten free internet

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III on Monday welcomed the agreement between the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the National Transmission Corporation, and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, which would enable the use of “dark fiber” in the National Broadband Plan.

Dark fiber refers to the unused portion of the fiber-optics in the transmission grid which could be utilized to establish optical connections among locations.

“This is one step closer to the fulfillment of the promise for free internet in the country. The implications for trade is enormous, as it will unlock a vast market that hitherto was unable to access the benefits of electronic commerce in the country,” Pimentel said.

The chair of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship said a nationwide free internet will spur the creation of more enterprises and increase the trade volume of existing companies.

“The internet opens lines of communication between entrepreneurs and consumers, while at the same time empowers those with marketable ideas to enter the entrepreneurial ranks. This is the power of the internet which the Duterte Administration has opened for the use of every Filipino,” Pimentel said.

In his State of the Nation Address last year, President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered the development of a NBP to improve the internet speeds in the country.

According to the DICT website, the NBP would “give everyone the chance to reap the advantages of high-speed internet.”

Meanwhile, Pimentel also expressed optimism that the NBP will spur the decrease of internet access price in the country.

The Philippines has often been cited as a case where consumers pay more for lower quality service of internet service providers.

“While not intended as a competitor to the current telcos, the existence of a free alternative should bring prices down and the quality of service up,” Pimentel said.

The tripartite agreement on "dark fiber" between the DICT, TransCo and NGCP was signed last Friday.

The "dark fiber" is 6,154 kilometers long and spans from Luzon to Mindanao.

According to the DICT, the agreement will accelerate the deployment of fiber optic cables and shorten the period in the run-up to the actual implementation of the NBP.