NBN Primer – Why is the NBN important to the Nation?

CNN Philippines photo

Engr. Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada
March 13, 2017

“We must understand a thing so that we may shape it. If we don’t, the thing will shape us”. – Anonymous

What is the National Broadband Network (NBN)

It is best to explain the NBN with an analogy to something that most of us are familiar with – The Highways & our road networks – think SLEX & the feeder roads connecting to it. Or the Maharlika highway and all the provincial roads that traverse it. Lets use the Maharlika highway as our example. It was built by the DPWH for the use of the general public. All forms of public locomotion are allowed along these roads with very few exceptions. It allows the free flow of people and goods, connecting buyers and sellers, teachers and learners. It essentially provides the life giving arteries to commerce, education, and many more communal activities typical in an agricultural & industrial society.

Now that we have irreversibly entered the digital age, where the biggest taxi company in the world does not own a single vehicle, where the largest hotel company does not a single room and where the largest retailer does not own a single inventory, an age where commercial value resides on globally traded digital goods. And for the Filipinos to participate in this global digital economy & trade equally with their foreign counterparts, the country needs a sufficiently large PUBLIC digital highway to allow the free flow of the digital goods within the country and to the rest of the Internet connected world. The National Broadband Network is that public digital highway.

Who owns the NBN?

The NBN is a public infrastructure similar to the road networks built by the government and is wholly publicly owned. In the current government structure, the rightful owner of this asset is the Department of the Information & Communication Technology (DICT).

When do we need the NBN?

The NBN is needed a decade ago. But as the saying goes “It is always the right time to do the right thing”. – Now, is the right time to do the NBN.

How do we do the NBN right?

Transparency with utmost transparency! specially due to the critical role of the NBN to the well being of the country, most particularly to the present and future generations of Filipinos. Here are a few ideas of doing the NBN correctly:

  • Know the consultants who are doing the design?
  • Know the consultants who are writing the bidding rules?
  • Ask for a waiver from conflict of commercial interest from these consultants and DICT officials.
  • Ask for a waiver that no DICT official will employ with the winning bidder after retiring of the DICT position they are holding.
  • Ask for a waiver from the DICT officials allowing AMLC to check on their bank account along with their relatives of interest.
  • Ask a waiver from winning supplier/contractor for the list of all subcontractors along with the list of owners for the NBN.

Why is the NBN important to the Filipino Nation?

I’d like to use this observation from a co-parent about the difference of our generation to the present one -“Noong panahon natin, napapagalitan tayo ng mga magulang natin kasi gabi na, hindi pa tayo umuuwi galing sa paglalaro sa labas. Ngayon naman, napapagalitan ko ang anak ko kasi gabi na, hindi pa lumalabas dahil sa paglalaro sa gadgets niya”. This observation basically sums up the impact of the digital technology in the lives of the children of this generation and the next.

We cannot afford our children to be left behind by the speeding digital train circling the globe. The digital society will usher in an age of vast inequality in the overall quality of life in the planet. It is a must for the present generation leaders to bring the digital highway to the service of the Filipino youth. Or risk the future of having a generation of Filipinos taking on the role of the low skilled, low-wage workers in the technology driven creative economy that is disrupting the world of business and everything else in its wake.

*What the NBN should not be?

The NBN should not be operated by any of the current telcos. The NBN should not be a paid service. The NBN should not be involved in the last mile provisioning to the end user.

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