Exclusive: The building blocks of a digital Philippines

When former President Benigno Aquino III signed into law the Republic Act 10844 to create the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Rodolfo Salalima was on the plane to Geneva, Switzerland to attend the council meeting of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
Salalima used to be a private litigator and practitioner. He was also once the Senior Vice President for Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, and Assistant Corporate Secretary, at Globe Telecom. He used to head the Globe Telecom Holdings, Inc too.
Besides that, he was doing pro-bono work for the Philippines' government as the country's adviser and spokesperson in ITU's council, and plenipotentiary meetings, before being appointed as the DICT secretary by President Rodrigo Duterte last June.
Accepting the position was not an easy decision for Salalima. "There were some second thoughts because I used to work in the private sector and doing a government job is a sacrifice [as] I have to close my law office so I can assume [the position]," he said in an exclusive interview with Computerworld Philippines.
"But I feel that I am happy that in the last part of my life; at least I'm doing something for our government, for our people, at least I am going to leave a legacy to the Filipino people as the first Secretary of the DICT," he added.
As the head of the seven-month old department, Salalima said their priority projects are in line with the mandate of President Duterte during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July 2016. This includes the development of a National Broadband Plan (NBP), boosting Wi-Fi access in public areas, and the creation of a National Government Portal (NGP).
Improving internet access in the Philippines
According to Salalima, under the proposed NBP, the government will establish broadband infrastructures from the northern to the southern parts of the country. This aims to deliver telecommunications services to government agencies and areas in the countryside without access to the internet.
The government had three options to implement the plan. First was to build a passive network infrastructure to be leased and operated by telco companies. The second choice was to build a broadband infrastructure operated by the DICT. The last option was to build a network and enter as a complete telecommunications player.
After previous consultation with other cabinet officials, Salalima said that DICT will implement the second option.
"Now the Undersecretary Dennis Villorente is fleshing out, putting details on the National Broadband Plan for approval of the President. Hopefully, by the end of January, we may be able to present the broadband with some details," he added.

DICT to implement Philippines’ national broadband plan next year

The Philippines' Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will implement the national broadband plan (NBP) next year.
"By the end of this year, [maybe the plan] can be finalised and then implemented by next year," said DICT Undersecretary Denis F. Villorente, in a report by GMA News Online.
In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 25 July 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte said he ordered the DICT to develop a NBP to boost the deployment of fibre optic cables and wireless technologies in the country to improve internet speed.
In the same report, Villorente said the DICT plans to consult various stakeholders from the private sector - such as PLDT, and Globe Telecom - and government to get their inputs for the development of NBP, which is now in the last stages of finalisation.

Nokia to supply Globe Telecom in the Philippines

Nokia and Globe Telecom, a leading telecom operator in the Philippines, on 24 October signed two Memoranda of Confirmation frame agreements – one for wireless technologies and the other for IP, Optical and SDN technologies – under which Nokia will transform Globe Telecom’s current fixed and mobile networks into a more robust network that will help Globe meet the country’s burgeoning and future digital demands.

This will enable Globe Telecom’s move to Cloud and IoT-ready networks and 5G.

Under the agreements, Globe Telecom will transition to a flexible cloud-based network infrastructure, with Nokia’s 5G-ready AirScale radio access and IP, optical and carrier SDN technology solutions providing seamless connectivity to consumers and enterprise customers. The modernized Globe network will also allow it to support the Philippine government’s initiative to further expand the availability of broadband services in the country.

The mobile network frame agreement between Nokia and Globe Telecom follows the operator’s recent access to new LTE spectrum. Nokia will deploy its 4.5G Pro technology using the 5G-ready AirScale Base Station and Flexi Zone small cells, managed by NetAct, in the Visayas and Mindanao regions, providing broadband access to some areas in these regions for the first time. Globe will also be enabled to use Mobile Edge Computing and advanced carrier aggregation techniques to deliver virtually unlimited scalability and dramatic improvements in speeds and capacity that will deliver compelling new services. The technology will also enable lower power consumption, reduced operating costs, more network automation and enhanced network performance as it transforms Globe Telecom’s customer experience for a subscriber base growing at 10 percent annually, as well as meeting increasing demand from IoT devices.

In the second frame agreement, Nokia will deliver its integrated IP and optical networking and carrier SDN technologies across the Philippines to enhance the agility, quality, performance, coverage and capacity of Globe Telecom’s enterprise data services network. This will allow Globe to deliver coverage to more regions including in the ARMM, such as Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. Using Nokia’s carrier SDN platform, Globe will also be able to provide flexible data services such as bandwidth-on-demand nationwide, and expand its offer to thousands of enterprise customers, global service providers and local government agencies as well as those serving the Information Technology-Business Process Outsourcing (IT-BPO), hospitality, education, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, logistics and finance industries.

“As the Philippines’ leading fixed and mobile service provider, we are devoted to improving people’s connected lives day-by-day. With Nokia’s innovative technologies, we are confident to lead the 5G and cloud network evolution,” said Ernest L. Cu, president and CEO of Globe Telecom.

“This is a significant agreement with a longstanding technology partner, and strengthens Nokia’s position as Globe Telecom’s premier provider of end-to-end technology solutions. We are committed to delivering technologies that allow operators to transition smoothly to intelligent, future-proof networks, offering seamless connectivity and changing how people communicate and connect,” said Mike Wang, head of the joint management team in China at Nokia.
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