Submarine cable to propel economic growth, world-class telco facilities and services
by Edgard Hilario
Manila, Philippines – Information is one of the lifelines of human civilization. Its availability dictates our capacity to efficiently grow our businesses and economies, to plug into a globalized world, and to deliver the right services to the people who need it most. It has always been so incredibly vital that I am told that during the Spanish-American War, Commodore George Dewey cut the Hong Kong-Manila telegraph cable to deny the Spanish communications with the outside world.
Through the years, the channels through which information is disseminated and exchanged have obviously evolved—from the invention and development of devices like the television and the mobile phone, to the early days of the World Wide Web, and eventually to now, an era in which information travels at fiber-optic speeds. It follows that the value of timely information has likewise increased exponentially. Many of us can attest to this. More and more these past few years, haven’t the most vital pieces of news and information we have received been coursed through a text message, or a cellphone call, or perhaps even a tweet?
Our connectivity to one another has never been more essential or more immediate; and it is but natural to think: The more vital our information network becomes, the more costly it is when we are deprived access to it. We can no longer afford a repeat of what happened in 2006, when two earthquakes off the coast of Taiwan compromised connectivity in many parts of Asia. It revealed some very concerning vulnerabilities in our region’s information infrastructure. We wondered: Was it really that easy to stifle communications here? Without doubt, it raised red flags amongst investors as well. It prompted them to ask: Are significant parts of this region’s economy one damaged cable away from crumbling? The downtime was already costly then, especially with a BPO industry growing at a very rapid pace; now that we have become a world leader in the industry—and considering the increased level at which various sectors rely on information technology—imagine how much more devastating such large-scale downtimes could be.
This is why we are gathered here. Today, we are witnessing Asia take one giant step towards progress. This Southeast Asia-Japan Submarine Cable System—a four hundred million dollar collaboration between major companies from all over Asia and the world—is no small feat. It will span at least 8,900 kilometers underwater, and could extend up to 9,700 kilometers. This will strengthen our region’s connectivity with other cable systems. In short, we are reinforcing our network to further protect our connections. This also means that we can expect more reliable text messaging and voice services, as well as higher-speed Internet links between the countries involved.
This bodes well for the industries here that are banking on improved communications capacities. It reinforces our position as leaders in the BPO industry; and it becomes another selling point for growing fields such as medical transcription, engineering services, and animation, amongst others. Media will likewise have an easier time reaching more viewers on the Internet; above that, perhaps we can also expect more of our citizens to participate in public discourse through social media sites like Twitter or Facebook.
This also greatly enhances government’s capabilities to serve our people. For example, this cable broadens access to government services such as Project NOAH—or the National Operational Assessment of Hazards—which allows anyone with an Internet connection to see data on the volume of rainfall in flood-affected areas in the country, and thus gets them out of harms way sooner rather than later. Improved access to the internet also means more of our people will receive timely updates from government agencies such as PAGASA, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, and the Official Gazette—updates that could make all the difference especially during times of calamity.
The benefits of this project extend even to our personal lives. After all, many of us here have friends who must have first shared the news of their engagement by uploading a photo on Facebook—at least for the generations after us [laughter]. Many of us have corresponded through email with childhood classmates we had previously lost contact with. And many of us have corresponded with a relative working in a faraway country, trying to make life better for their loved ones back home. What this cable promises us goes beyond infrastructure; it promises to make the Philippines—a country with 10 million overseas workers—a country even more closely knit than before.
For all this, I extend my gratitude and congratulations to Globe. Hand in hand with your ongoing Network Modernization Program, I am extremely confident that you will improve your services even more. It makes me optimistic that, soon enough, other telecommunications companies will follow suit and help provide the nation seamless and reliable connectivity.
Globe’s work, from its inception, has been embodied by a single, profound phrase: Making great things possible. With this collaboration, I can say that, truly, you are living up to your brand. I am hopeful that you can continue working to make the latest technological innovations available to our country, and expanding the realm of what is possible for the Filipinos of today, and the generations that will come after.
Thank you and good evening.”