Rio bares overprice in DICT’s P466M free internet deals
MANILA, Philippines — Former Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Undersecretary Eliseo Rio claimed Tuesday that the four awards previously given by the agency for the establishment of 1,035 very small aperture terminals (VSAT) in the country amounting to P466 million were “overpriced.”
During the hearing of the House committee on good government and public accountability, Rio pointed out that the DICT issued four notices of awards back in December 2020 for the procurement of managed internet service for the Free WiFi Internet Access in Public Places Project.
Rio said the notice of awards were issued to the following:
- Philippines Communications Satellite Corporation (PhilComSat) – P112.5 million for 250 sites
- We Are It Philippines, Inc. – P113.65 million for 257 sites
- Ione Resources, Inc. – P97.825 million for 215 sites
- Ebizolutions, Inc. – P140.615 million for 313 sites
A document from the DICT shows that the project seeks to provide a fully managed VSAT internet connectivity service to various locations in the country including geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas amid the pandemic.
However, Rio, who officially left DICT in May 2020, said that these were “overpriced” when compared to the DICT’s partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the free Wi-Fi program wherein each site only costs P227,000 per year.
“There were four awardees, all of them, cost per site per year is approximately about five times more than the UNDP,” Rio said.
“The total of the four awards is P466,594,216… It is only for 1,035 sites and only for five months. Ako’y matagal na sa telecom industry, Hindi pa ako nakikita ng isang managed service that will only be less than one year. Ito five months, anong magagawa ng five months?” he added.
Rio did not specifically say how the award contracts may have been overpriced as against the UNDP costing, and if there were other attending factors that may have contributed to the higher contract value.
Further, Rio said the four awards of VSAT managed service were “unnecessary” and a “total waste” of the Bayanihan budget which were used to fund the project.
“The four awards of VSAT managed service are unnecessary in my opinion and a total waste of the P488 million of the Bayanihan funds—this is the source of the fund of those [programs],” Rio said.
But DICT Undersecretary Manny Caintic denied the overpricing, saying the improvement in the internet speed should also be pointed out.
Caintic explained that under the DICT’s partnership with UNDP, the maximum internet speed was at 2 megabits per second (mbps).
“Ginandahan natin ‘yung ating serbisyo kasi marami tayong natatanggap na comparative complaints kasi nowadays we’re even asking our third telco to not go lower than 27 mbps so tinaasan natin yung ating committed internet rate,” Caintic said.
“Hindi totoo na overpriced for the price of the internet that we are providing now. Mas maganda ang magiging user experience ng tao. So it’s ten times more cheaper yung ating per bandwidth,” he added.
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