Tuesday, August 07, 2007

GMA's NBN: White Elephant?

The editorial of Inquirer today questions whether GMA's National Broadband Network project is another white elephant.
The intention may be good, but the means being used to carry out the two projects are questionable. In the first place, is there need for them? Two professors of the University of the Philippines (UP) School of Economics -- Dean Raul V. Fabella and Prof. Emmanuel S. de Dios -- have answered no. They say that the government does not need to own a broadband backbone, much less two, because two are already in existence and are being operated by private firms: one by Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., the other by its competitors.
Economists Fabella and De Dios's position paper can be read here.

Dave Llorito writes:
We agree with the professors’ call, especially in the case of the NBN. It was apparently negotiated in utmost secrecy with the Chinese government; and, with the subsequent “loss” of the signed contracts in a hotel room in China, the hush-hush deal seems to have the makings of another scam that could push this country into another cycle of economically destructive political spasms.

The questions over the lack of transparency now makes me re-think the debate over Australia's similarly named National Broadband Network. The infrastructure project is aimed at linking the hinterlands to the coastal cities and the world. I remember how I found it quaint how the Australian parliament's debate was broadcast live on national TV. I remember how I found it funny that these law makers were literally debating over the nuts and bolts, adapters, cables, routers - and of course which company gets the deal. Well, I don't find it funny now.

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