The government plans to build cellular towers in the countryside as a part of the national broadband project under the public-private partnership scheme.
“We are bidding out the feasibility study first,” PPP executive director Ferdinand Pecson said.
Pecson said the cell sites would be built under the National Broadband Plan-Accelerated Tower Build or Access project, a component of the broadband network of the Department of Information and Communication Technology.
Pecson said the government would hold a public auction for the installation of cell sites which would then be leased out to telco players.
DICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima earlier said the national broadband network would require an investment of P77 billion. The amount could reach as high as P200 billion, if the government needs to build its own infrastructure.
The DICT was originally looking at the existing assets of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines to accelerate the rollout of NBN project.
As the country’s sole power transmission operator, NGCP has existing fiber optic facilities that run across all three grids: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
The fiber optic network is used primarily for internal communication purposes, particularly to enable real time communication between its facilities, and with generators for and distribution utilities.
NGCP, which holds the 25-year concession contract to operate the country’s power transmission network, is comprised of Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp., Calaca High Power Corp. and the State Grid Corp. of China as technical partner.
The NBN plan is focused on accelerating investments in the country, mobilizing and engaging public and private sectors, connecting and increasing adoption and usage of technology tools and solutions across the Philippines.
The NBN project is expected to be completed in one year to three years.
A national broadband network project was scrapped in 2007 during the Arroyo administration, amid allegations of corruption in the awarding of a $329-million construction contract to Chinese telecommunications company ZTE Corp.
President Rodrigo Duterte, in his State of the Nation Address in July 2016, directed DICT to develop a national broadband plan to accelerate the deployment of fiber optic cables and wireless technologies to improve Internet speed.
The president approved the new plan in March. It will serve as the data backbone for the national government portal and free public Wi-Fi.