Philippine govt launches Phase 1 of National Fibre Backbone

Philippine govt launches Phase 1 of National Fibre Backbone

The Philippine government launched the first phase of its National Fibre Backbone (NFB) project on Friday, which it says will boost the country’s economy as well as its digital ambitions.

According to a statement from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), NFB Phase 1 comprises a 1,245-km cable network from Laoag, Ilocos Norte to Roces, Quezon City. It connects 14 provinces across Northern and Central Luzon, Metro Manila, four Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) eco-zones, and two national government data centres.

Phase 1 of the government-owned backbone – which was soft-launched in December 2023 – sports 28 nodes and delivers an initial capacity of 600 Gbps.

At the official launch ceremony on Friday, Philippine president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr said the NFB “serves as the economic spine that props up our growth, and supports our development. More importantly, we understand that in order for Filipinos to reach their full potential, we must invest in a fast and reliable internet.”

President Marcos Jr said that the completed NFB “will open employment opportunities, improve market efficiency, attract foreign investments, and stimulate livelihood across the different sectors of our economy and our society.”

In the meantime, he said, NFB Phase 1 would help over 340 national and local government offices connected to GovNet boost their overall operational efficiency and generate more than PHP145 million (US$2.2 million) in potential annual savings.

“Additionally, it will extend a digital lifeline to more than 3,000 Filipinos and different Free Wi-Fi Sites, enabling direct internet access for approximately 750,000 beneficiaries in Regions I, III, and here in [Metro Manila],” he added.

Also at the launch event, DICT secretary Ivan John Uy said Phase 1 of the NFB represented a “monumental leap forward in our journey towards a digitally empowered society. With the activation of these nodes, we are bringing high-speed internet across to underserved communities, unlocking opportunities for education, healthcare, and economic development.”

Uy also said DICT will leverage the high-speed connectivity provided by the NFB to power last-mile initiatives like the National Government Portal (NGP) and the Broadband ng Masa Program.

The remaining five phases of the NFB are scheduled to be completed in 2026, at which point it will span 28,000 km. According to the Manila Times, Uy said that Phases 2 and 3 could be completed by the end of this year.

DICT said the completed NFB will help increase the Philippines’ internet penetration rate from 33% to 65% and reach 70 million Filipinos. It also said the initiative would also lower the price of internet connectivity to as much as US$5.00 per Mbps.

“The next phases of the National Fibre Backbone project will focus on broadening our network coverage, extending connectivity across regions, and providing broadband internet access to government institutions and public spaces,” Uy said.

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