Making Sense of the NBN Project
Been watching the live broadcast of the Senate hearing over the National Broadband Network Project for the last 7 hours and I must say that despite the politics behind the issue, I was more frustrated with the Senators asking repetitive questions and making non-sense tech-related conclusions (that goes to Mar Roxas and Dick Gordon).
Allow me to give my few cents worth about this project, minus the kickbacks, politicking and all the controversies.
I believe that among the 3 proposals sent to the DOTC (ZTE, Arescom and Amsterdam Holdings), the ZTE had the most comprehensive solution and the widest national coverage. The Php15 Billion ($329 million) NBN project proposal of ZTE involves installation of 300 base stations, 300 backbone stations, 30 IPMPLS nodes (for an IP backbone), 24,844 customer premise equipment with voice over Internet Protocol and one Internet Data Center and Network Operation Center with a mirror site.
The transmission will be done using WirelessMAN (30 kms line-of-sight) or more commonly known as WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) which will enable the network to cover all of the close to 25,000 municipalities (up to sixth class) and baranggays in the country.
What does each node potentially get?
- Faster and dedicated connectivity (goodbye dial-up and Smart Bro!)
- More secured and independent lines (depends on where you’re coming from)
- Free, unlimited VOIP calls to any points within the national network.
- Cheaper international VOIP calls to government offices, embassies and other installations around the world (if they’re VOIP enabled)
- Free, unlimited Internet Fax (less paper waste)
- Cheaper mobile phone access (using SIP phones)
Of course, you also get some of the inherent benefits of being connected to the internet. In essence, the proposed project is sound and laudable. The question whether all these benefits is worth the Php15-Billion peso price tag is still debatable.
It’s just frustrating to realize that such a technological leap forward is marred with corruption and politics. I was jumping on my seat itching to explain to our dear senators the difference between WiMAX, 3G, CDMA2000 and satellite technologies or why the last mile is the most problematic and costly even to the existing private telcos. But, such is life in this country.
To learn more about the NBN contract, you can read the full copy here. Or, you can read the full transcript of Manolo’s liveblogging the Senate hearing here.