The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is in the news once again with its bold--and perhaps naive--proposal for a government broadband network or GBN, a new version of the ill-fated national broadband network (NBN) project that rocked the previous Arroyo administration.
According to DOST secretary Mario Montejo, the new broadband initiative, with an estimated cost of 800 million peso (US$18.7 million), is far cheaper than the US$300-million contract that the Arroyo regime tried to carry out.
The DOST chief argued that since the government is paying 2 billion peso (US$466.9 million) in telephone bills anyway, then it might be better if the government could just create its own network to reduce, if not totally eliminate, its communication expenses.
I don't know if Montejo is hallucinating or not, but the good secretary seems to be misguided on this one.
As previously noted by industry observers, the DOST appears to be ignoring the lessons of the past. In particular, it has been pointed out that the government should not go to an area where the private sector is deemed more capable and effective.
I both admire and detest Montejo's audacity. Since going onboard, he has made attention-grabbing initiatives such as the ambitious monorail project at the University of the Philippines, and recommending the downgrading of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) into a mere office under the DOST.
Montejo is perhaps the most influential secretary that the DOST has had so far--he undoubtedly has the ears and complete confidence of the president. As someone who was plucked from outside of the DOST bureaucracy, he displays the creativity and bravura typical of a private-sector guy.
But Montejo appears to be acting on impulse and is listening only to a select group of friends, some of whom he has brought into the DOST. To be honest, the secretary's recent actions and projects have somewhat left me wondering if he's really up to the job. I hope he proves me wrong.
The hovering cloud In other news, if the number of press launches this past couple of weeks serves as a gauge, I can say that cloud computing is indeed taking off in the country. From the big telcos to small startups, from private to public, from global brands to homegrown firms--everyone's trying to jump on the bandwagon.
Last week, these companies all launched their cloud offerings: IP-Converge, VMware, Hitachi Data Systems, and Morph Labs. A week before that, fierce rivals PLDT and Globe Telecom also unveiled their respective cloud solutions.
Speaking of VMware, the virtualization firm recently announced the establishment of its local office. On hand to announce the opening was Ed Lenta, general manager for VMware in Asean. As the regional boss, Lenta was also tasked to look after the Philippine market. But unofficial accounts have it that IT veteran Manny Portugal, who is currently connected with IBM Philippines, is tipped to be the incoming country manager for VMware's local unit.
On ICANN, cybercrime bill Last week was also a proud moment for local IT executive, Judith Duavit-Vasquez, when she formally announced in a press conference her selection as the first Filipino and Asian female to serve in the board of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Duavit-Vazquez will start her three-year term at the upcoming ICANN general assembly on Oct. 28, 2011.
After failing to advance many times in Congress, the proposed law on cybercrime is finally being tackled in the Senate. On Monday, bill sponsor Sen. Edgardo Angara had the chance to defend the proposed legislation in the Senate plenary hall. Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) executive director, Louis Casambre, and his deputy Monchito Ibrahim, supplied information from the gallery to Angara as he took questions from Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Tito Sotto.
The senators, however, failed to wrap up the interpellation as Sen. Pia Cayetano requested that her questions be taken up in the next session. The House of the Representatives has already passed its counterpart version of the bill.