Philippines in billion-dollar fibre partnership

Created May 8, 2019
News and Business

The Filipino Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has formalised a billion-dollar partnership with Philippine Fiber Optic Cable Network Ltd., Inc. (PFOCN) relating to the construction of an open access fibre and broadband network. The partners inked a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) at Quezon City, strengthening the network connectivity of the Philippines through PFOCN’s Fiber Optic Cable (FOC).

Total network investment for the project is valued at between $1 billion and $2 billion. This will be allocated in various phases between 2019 and 2028. The DICT will provide assistance to PFOCN in procuring the needed permits and licences for the successful implementation of their initiative. PFCON is a subsidiary of HyalRoute Group, a Singapore-based company providing shared communication fibre networks in emerging Asian markets.

The signing ceremony was led by DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr., Undersecretary John Henry Naga, HyalRoute CEO Dana Dong, and Vice President Guowei Tang.

“There is a need for more fibre optic cables in this country, thus this partnership will greatly improve our telecommunication services. We can now have cable networks that anybody can use, and this jives with our National Broadband Plan,” Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr. said.

Moreover, Rio noted that the fibre optic cable roll-out through this partnership will also form part of the DICT’s Free Public Wi-Fi network to reach the unserved and underserved areas in the country.

“We believe this investment project will greatly improve the status of communication infrastructure, particularly fibre network, while improving broadband penetration rate and speed to meet the needs of the general public,” added HyalRoute Chairman Mr. Huang Xinglong.

HyalRoute designs, constructs, and owns and operates the largest independent, customer-neutral, shared fibre network platform in the fast-growing markets of Myanmar and Cambodia. It primarily generates revenues from the sale and leasing of fibre within this platform to a diverse range of customers. Additionally, HyalRoute is a member of the 25,000 km Asia-Africa-Europe-1, or AAE-1, submarine cable network consortium, and has purchased 3 Tbits/s of bandwidth along the Pacific Light Cable network (PLCN). The latter is an approximately 13,000 route km submarine network cable which, once completed, will serve as the first direct fibre link between Hong Kong and the USA.

Interestingly, a significant HyalRoute shareholder is reported to be the diversified Shenzhen-based technology conglomerate Kuang-Chi Group.  In mid-2018 The Wall Street Journal reported that Kuang-Chi was planning a US listing of the assets it holds in Myanmar and Cambodia. HyalRoute’s stated ambition is to create the first and largest pan-regional, independent, customer-neutral, and shared fibre network platform in the emerging Asian market region.

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This article was written
by John Williamson

John Williamson is a freelance telecommunications, IT and military communications journalist. He has also written for national and international media, and been a telecoms advisor to the World Bank.