By Myrna M. Velasco
Discussions have been gaining traction toward the use of power lines of the electric cooperatives (ECs) to close the digital divide in the country, primarily the much-wished Internet connection of the rural areas.
The National Electrification Administration (NEA) said talks have already begun with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on the use of the power lines for last-mile broadband connection.
Exploring that possibility has so far been advanced in the initial meeting that NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong and DICT acting secretary recently had.
The DICT, it was noted, has presented its National Broadband Plan to the electrification agency – with the ECs perceptibly having that stretch of connection to the marginal consumers even in far-flung areas of the country.
Fundamentally, the country’s broadband program builds to a great extent on the use of the dark fiber optic cables in the transmission lines being operated by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines.
A tripartite agreement on the plan was inked last month – and the DICT had already set forth plans on P20 billion worth of capital spending to reinforce the country’s Internet connectivity.
As far as DICT is concerned, it has been sounding off the role that electric cooperatives will be playing in the targeted intensified last mile connection for prospective Internet users in rural domains.
For the NEA chief, he noted that this development will be very important, anchoring it chiefly on DICT’s pronouncement that the ECs “can be Internet service providers (ISP) in their respective coverage areas.”
The electrification agency’s commitment then is its cooperation into advancing the program so consumers in their service jurisdictions can be viably served.
“We will give you the internet access and you can bring it to your client. Then, they can now enjoy their electricity and they have internet access,” Masongsong said.
On the part of the electric cooperatives, the NEA chief also sees the vital impact that the broadband project will have on them, especially in helping shore up their incomes.