Governor Joseph Cua called on telecoms giant PLDT last week to reactivate the provincial government’s lease line to provide internet services to Capitol offices.
In an online meeting with PLDT officials that was marred by signal interruptions, the chief executive said the lease line was intended to provide internet connectivity to the province especially for the eTRACs, or Enhanced Tax Revenue Assessment and Collections System, but the line failed to deliver even one day of service.
Cua said that as a result, the implementation of the eTRACS failed, with the province even billed for the services that were not delivered.
PLDT officials promised to assist the provincial government in reactivating the lease line, saying that the company can now deliver on the bandwidth requirement of its customers, including call centers, through its fiber optic network in Virac.
The governor also asked the company if it could use old Internet Protocol (IP) radio equipment as a temporary solution to the province’s online meeting woes.
“Baka pwede tayo makahiram sa Catanduanes ng temporary, lagyan natin ‘yung provincial hospital at kapitolyo, kasi talagang very essential sa amin ang malakas na internet. Tulad ngayon, due to this pandemic, puro Zoom meeting na, which hindi kami nakaka-attend because of poor internet,” the governor said.
Aside from checking the lease line equipment previously installed at the Capitol, PLDT also said it will install a fiber optic connection soonest to the Eastern Bicol Medical Center (EBMC) and the Provincial Health Office (PHO) using the existing Fiber-To-The-Home facility nearby.
As a permanent solution, the governor also wishes to avail of the 200Mbps iGate dedicated internet plan, which would serve the Capitol, all 11 municipalities, and government hospitals in the island.
Cua likewise asked the company to submit proposals for the Capitol’s use of its SMS blast during disasters.
PLDT also offered the province its structured cabling services, which would connect different offices as well as carry CCTV signals and connect thermal scanners and other digital devices, with the system controlled by a single command center.
It would provide wifi services to all public areas, municipal and barangay halls, and public schools, terminating at a data center to be built by PLDT to house servers.
Meanwhile, the telecommunications company said the island would enjoy the full benefit of a 10-Gbps bandwidth for fiber internet, and enhanced speeds for mobile internet once they finish laying fiber-optic cables around Catanduanes’ municipalities.
With the Virac-Baras A1 segment already completed as of December 2020, the company is also set to complete its remaining fiber-optic segments running through Viga-Baras (A2), Caramoran-Viga (A3), and Lictin-Caramoran (A4), with concrete poles already delivered in some areas.
“‘Yung remaining three segments po, hopefully ma-complete po siya within the first quarter of this year. Pero I’m not sure with our engineering team if makakaya pong ma-meet pa ‘yung target kasi sana po wala na pong mga unforeseen events na mangyari,” Warren Natividad told the governor.
He added that for the past years, Catanduanes has been getting internet through radio, with weather conditions and limited bandwidth contributing to its unreliability.
The original plan was for a purely underground fiber optic line but the hard terrain in some parts of the segments made it impossible to drill through the ground, resulting in a combination of underground and aerial lines, the PLDT stated.
It likewise offered other services such as applications, end-to-end devices, POS systems, software operating systems, server devices, databases, and the co-location of back-up servers in secure buildings.
For the capitol compound, it said the province has two options: the shared DSL connection or the dedicated lease line which has equal upload and download speeds.