Converge supports ‘Dig Once’ policy to reduce cost of digital infra roll-out

Converge Chief Operations Officer Jesus C. Romero

Converge ICT Solutions Inc. is supporting a “dig once” policy wherein the government can install underground pipes for telecommunication cables whenever there is public works construction, especially for new road laying projects.

Converge Chief Operations Officer (COO) Jesus C. Romero said Converge is backing the idea of multi-stakeholder coordination among government, ICT players, and utility companies to make sure telecommunications infrastructure is already installed whenever new road infrastructure is built.

The cost of installation of the conduits can be shared by the telcos or ISPs – such an option will mean cost savings for the ICT providers, and ensure there won’t be multiple trench-diggings.

“This can be done in expressways linking parts of the metro together. Submarine cables are expensive. We could do with a lot more diversity and connectivity. This joint use of infrastructure will go a long way. As an ISP, we’re willing to pay for our share [of the cost],” said Romero, during the forum organized by the US Agency for International Development-Better Access to Connectivity (USAID-BEACON) titled “Improving Broadband Internet Connectivity in Cities and LGUs”, held recently.

Stakeholders from government, ICT, and banking converge in a panel discussion on financing better internet for cities at the USAID-BEACON forum, ‘Improving Broadband Internet Connectivity in Cities and LGUs’

This “joint use” mechanism will translate to lower capital costs for the internet service provider, which in turn will widen access to the broadband infrastructure, especially to rural communities.

In pursuing this policy, cooperation among the national government agencies such as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), local government units (LGUs), and private sector operators is critical as the digital infrastructure deployment has to be aligned with public works plans.

“Our backbone nationwide, most of it is underground, but there are still places where we have aerial cables because of the old design of the houses. We should encourage regulators and lawmakers to come up with directions to push for underground cabling because we are a typhoon-ravaged country,” added Dennis Anthony Uy, Converge CEO and Co-Founder, in a separate event.

Another policy move that can be considered where underground cables are not feasible, is infrastructure sharing. This entails the shared use of open, neutral, and affordable facilities among telecom companies, which includes utility poles. A Common Pole policy can further reduce the cost of network deployment, said Uy. 

The USAID-BEACON project aims to promote economic growth through better information and communications technology (ICT) and help bridge the digital divide in the Philippines.

The USAID-BEACON project aims to promote economic growth through better information and communications technology (ICT) and help bridge the digital divide in the Philippines.

Joining Converge COO Romero onstage during the panel discussion were representatives from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) , Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Public Private Partnership (PPP) Center, and Landbank of the Philippines. The said panel tackled how to finance better internet for city governments and encourage inclusive and expanded investment in broadband internet.

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