Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Possibly there’s nothing broader as broadband. Corny.

In the Philippines, it is conceivable that many understand the term ‘broadband’ in relation to Internet access and connectivity. It is understandable as well that a lot of Filipinos who hear ‘broadband’ are reminded of the botched ZTE-NBN Deal during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The government then attempted to jumpstart the creation of a national broadband network to increase the speed, efficiency and adaptability of government service. A worthy cause turned out to be an exercise on how not to enter into a contract for a national broadband infrastructure.

Pause however. What is broadband anyway?

In the arena of technology, broadband is “made up of a series of technology modules--transmission lines, modems, routers--that when aggregated create the high-speed communications connectivity that end users experience.”* Generally, broadband is “infrastructure for both transportation of bits and communications (of people), of conveying content (information), and establishing relationships (interactivity).”** However, Internet or Internet access is NOT THE SAME with broadband. Broadband is only the infrastructure or gateway to access the Internet. NEITHER is it only a mode or medium for the delivery of content or information NOR is it demanded by everyone.

It may be asked, why do developed countries (like South Korea and Japan) invest huge amounts of resources in the formation of a national broadband system?

In simple words, the answer lies in what broadband brings to the table. Access to broadband equals the creation of universal opportunities and positive externalities.*** A country with a national broadband infrastructure enables its citizens to utilize the vast network that is the Internet in advancing in the different aspects of their life, from education to socialization to economic prosperity. The benefits of a seemingly inconsequential act through the Internet is multiplied a hundredfold through the presence of a broadband system, thereby encouraging many others to ‘chime’ in the system.

Filipinos must first understand why a national broadband infrastructure is necessary for national progress. It is not enough for the government to harp on the technological aspect of broadband access for all. Commitment to such an immense project can only be nurtured if Filipinos possess at least an elementary understanding of the dynamics behind broadband. The ZTE-NBN deal was supposedly wrapped in clandestine negotiations, and indeed, that spelled doom from a political and legal standpoint. But any contract in pursuit of a national broadband policy must ensure at the outset that Filipinos are made aware of the real nature of broadband technology.

Broadband. More fun in the Philippines?

*Richard S. Whitt, Evolving Broadband Policy: Taking Adaptive Stances to Foster Optimal Internet Platforms, 17 COMMLAW CONSPECTUS 417, 427 (2009).

**Id., at p. 429.

***See Robert D. Atkinson, Framing a National Broadband Policy, 16 COMMLAW CONSPECTUS 145, 152-155 (2007). An externality can be understood as occurring when the positive or negative consequences of the conduct of an individual inadvertently spill over into the conduct of another individual.

Aldan S. Avila, Entry No. 11

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