Originally slated for 2019, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and social media giant Facebook has now resumed its partnership deal to provide lower internet costs in the Philippines. Delayed by the never-ending geopolitical tension between China and the US, the international submarine cable project, together with Google, is expected to connect the country by August or September 2020.
What is Pacific Light Cable Network?
The Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN), which is a 12,800-kilometer undersea cable system, is said to significantly lower the cost of internet services. The initiative started back in 2017; to connect the Philippines, HongKong, Taiwan, and the US (particularly Los Angeles). While US President Donald Trump had strong concerns about potential “security issues” due to China having a cable link to the US, Facebook was able to get authorization to connect the Philippines to LA.
The main gist of the partnership is that Facebook will provide an annual internet capacity of two terabits per second (Tbps) in exchange for using the government’s P975 million Luzon Bypass Infrastructure. DICT Undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said, that by the third quarter, the cable will be connected to Baler, Aurora, and La Union which are government-managed landing stations. Today, PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom own most of the country’s landing stations.
DITO Telecom, an upcoming third major player, is said to be interested in occupying bandwidth provided by Facebook, in addition to other parties coming from Taiwan and Japan.
According to Rio, the government will only need less than half of the provided 2Tbps. It will allow other broadband companies to support their infrastructure without needing to acquire bandwidth from the two giant telecoms in the country.
“These small players will be monetizing the bandwidth that they earned from the government because their subscription cost will be much lower than the big telcos,” Rio said.