PNoy keen on new broadband project

President Benigno S. Aquino III has acknowledged that he is keen on a proposal for a new national broadband network, but he ruled out reviving the controversial NBN-ZTE broadband project for the government.

During an interview in Malacanang, Aquino said that there is a need for a broadband network and that the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is currently “inventorying what we have" as the basis for the broadband network.

Aquino said the government is willing to collaborate with local telcos for the broadband initiative as they “already ready as far as broadband is concerned".

“But as for reviving something similar to the ZTE, there’s no way we can do that. But we’re utilizing what we already have to meet the needs. That is currently being assessed and the plan is being drawn up by DOST," the president stressed.

The controversial $339-million national broadband network (NBN) deal between the Philippines and China’s ZTE Corp. was cancelled in 2007 after news about anomalous government contracts came out.

Aside from the problematic contract, Aquino, who recently came back from a state visit in China, also pointed out that the DOST has informed him that the technology provided under the ZTE deal is already obsolete and is practically useless in today’s environment.

The DOST has argued that putting up the GBN is more cost-effective in the long-term than for the government to spend P2 billion yearly for Internet connectivity for just 6.4 Gbps capacity.

But local IT stakeholders said multi-million broadband project could be a major reason why Aquino dissolved the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) and replaced it with an office under the DOST.

In a statement, the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP), said the CICT may have been downgraded to justify the placement of the broadband deal under the DOST and not the CICT or the DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications). —