By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
MANILA – The Philippines will soon enjoy a wider and better interconnectivity, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said Tuesday, as he welcomed the subsea cable system project of Converge ICT Solutions Inc. and Keppel Telecommunications and Transport (T&T) Ltd.
Marcos relayed the good news after his meeting with Converge founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Dennis Anthony Uy and Keppel T&T CEO and executive director Thomas Pang Thieng Hwi at Malacañan Palace in Manila on Tuesday.
Marcos said the partnership between Converge and Keppel T&T will provide the country with a bigger bandwidth and faster internet connection.
“I just finished a meeting with the Converge group who have tied up with the Keppel group to put in a submarine fiber optic cable from the west coast of the United States. It will connect to the Philippines and it will also connect to Singapore and Indonesia,” he said, as he recapped his meeting with the telecommunications providers.
“And this will again give us bigger bandwidth. This will give us a better communication system when it comes to all the online services that we are using globally,” he added.
Converge, one of the country’s fiber internet service provider, entered into a definitive agreement with Keppel T&T in 2001 for its participation in the Bifrost Cable System project, the world’s first subsea cable system which aims to connect Singapore to the west coast of North America.
Marcos was elated that the Philippines would be included in the Bifrost Cable System Project to boost internet services in the country.
“Itong usapan na ito ay naging bunga nung pagpunta ko sa Singapore. Pinag-usapan namin ito kaya’t ngayon nabuo na at ilalagay nila, isasama nila ang Pilipinas doon sa kanilang mahabang fiber optic na kable (This has been a result of my visit to Singapore. We talked about it and now, the Philippines will be included in the long fiber optic cable project),” he said.
As of January 2023, the Philippines is ranked 82nd out of 142 countries in terms of mobile internet speed and 41st out of 180 countries in terms of fixed broadband media speed, based on the Ookla Speedtest Global Index data.
The Marcos administration has so far established a total of 4,757 operational live sites in 75 provinces and Metro Manila through the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s (DICT) free BroadBand ng Masa program.
The program covers the geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDAs) like the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi (BaSuLTa), and the Pag-asa Island of the Kalayaan Group of Islands in the province of Palawan.
The Broadband ng Masa program has approximately 4 million unique users nationwide.
In 2023, the government is planning to launch over 15,000 free Wi-Fi sites.
The agreement between Converge and Keppel T&T provides for the grant of an indefeasible right of use to the former for one fiber pair on the main trunk of Bifrost Cable System.
Keppel T&T’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Keppel Midgard Holdings Pte. Ltd., and Converge will jointly develop a branch on the Bifrost Cable System that will land in Davao.
Expected to be completed in 2024, the 15,000-kilometer subsea cable system project aims to directly connect Singapore to the west coast of North America, passing through Indonesia, the Philippines and Guam.
The project intends to boost the connectivity of the region’s governments and businesses, including cloud operators, telecommunications operators, network providers, over-the-top providers, data centers and consumers for a better digital experience.
The multiple fiber-paired, high-performance Bifrost Cable System will also be the largest high-speed transmission cable across the Pacific Ocean. (PNA)