Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Improving Philippines broadband hounded with supplier politics

One of the highlights in President Arroyo's 2007 State of the Nation Address was the improvement of broadband infrastructure and services in the country.

The Philippine Senate is expected to initiate an investigation into the $330-million contract awarded by the Philippines’ Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to ZTE Corp. This is especially true now that records show that even U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney aired concern on the transparency of the broadband project.

Two suppliers, Arescom Inc. and Amsterdam Holdings, cried foul on how the project proposals were reviewed. ZTE claims that there was no irregularity on how the deal was sealed. Although various reports are now coming on ZTE's various business irregularities in other countries. This is indeed a public relations nightmare on ZTE and the Philippine government.

While the government is busy defending the decision it made on this controversial project, Senator Loren Legarda has filed a bill proposing to establish a Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), to be spun off from the DOTC, which has come under fire for its supposed lack of transparency in forging a $330-million national broadband network contract with ZTE Corp.

Under Senate Bill 920, all existing DOTC offices dealing with communications would either be built into or attached to the DICT. These include the National Telecommunications Commission and the Philippine Postal Corp. The National Computer Center would also be ceded to the DICT.

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