Maguindanao town to be Internet 'gateway' for East Asean (Philippines Daily Inquirer)

The Maguindanao town of Parang has been chosen as Mindanao’s gateway under the $30-million Internet connectivity project in the East Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Growth Area (Eaga), an economic cooperation initiative involving Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines (BIMP).

Edgardo Celorico, head of the BIMP-Eaga’s Information and Communications Technology cluster, said Mindanao will be connected to neighboring Eaga areas and Asia, and the world through Parang, using the submarine cable system, which will be implemented by Singaporean firm Best Cable Inc.

Celorico said the ground breaking for the Parang facility will be held early next year.

The Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei consortium will shoulder the project’s cost amounting to about $30 million. It is a regional 5,092-kilometer high bandwidth fiber optics cable system that allows telecommunication connectivity in the BIMP-Eaga region with the rest of the Asean and Asian countries, particularly Singapore, Hong Kong and US, he said.

Celorico said the connection between Brunei and Sabah in Malaysia was in the process of completion already. Sabah will then be connected to Guam and mainland Malaysia.

The Philippines will tap on the same connection that will land in Parang, Maguindanao, Celerico said.

Samuel Matunog, ICT Davao president, said Parang was specifically chosen because EA Trilink, the Filipino private sector proponent of the cable project, has an existing telecommunication franchise in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

This is also one of the peace dividends for ARMM, Matunog added.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said the choice of his province as gateway for Internet connectivity between BIMP areas proved that the province is now an investment area.

Mangudadatu cited the existence of various petroleum companies in the province, which offer cheaper fuels through their depots in Parang.

We also have such companies as banana exporters investing in the province these days, he said.

Matunog said the BIMP-Eaga interconnectivity project was targeted for completion in 2017 and was foreseen to also position Mindanao as business process outsourcing investment destination.

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is one of the sectors for cooperation and collaboration among the BIMP-Eaga member economies and is a key enabler for socio-economic development and integration in the region, Matunog said.

Celorico said it was also hoped that in the long run, the system will usher in cheaper Internet rates.

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