Bohol sees BPO boosted by PLDT fiber optic link



TAGBILARAN CITY, BOHOL — Governor Edgar M. Chatto said on Tuesday that Bohol is ready to host information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) companies following the completion of a fiber optic link by the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT).

The governor said the province has been preparing over the last two years to get its talent pool ready for the IT-BPO sector, with schools adjusting their curricula to suit industry requirements and tracking down Bohol natives living outside the province with a view towards inviting them to come back home to work.

Officials have also identified buildings that can be converted for IT-BPO use as well as potential special economic zones, including a 15-hectare property near the proposed New Bohol (Panglao) International Airport.

Real property tax holidays, on top of Board of Investments and Philippine Economic Zone Authority incentives, are also in place while a private sector-led IT council is ready to provide support to investors, Mr. Chatto said.

“We are ready. We have always identified the ICT (information and communications technology) sector as the third engine of growth for Bohol. We must make sure that we take off this time,” the governor said in an interview after the celebration of the province’s 160th founding anniversary on Tuesday.

Bohol’s economy is currently agriculture- and tourism-centered. Tagbilaran City, the provincial capital, has been identified as one of the next wave of cities for outsourcing, but Mr. Chatto said the province has lagged other locations in attracting IT-BPO investment.

The completion of PLDT’s high-speed Internet backbone will provide connectivity, which the governor described as “the last ingredient” for the development of Tagbilaran City into another ICT hub.

PLDT officially launched on Tuesday its P700-million domestic fiber optic network in Bohol, a 328-kilometer high-speed Internet backbone that officials hope could accelerate the province’s recovery from the devastation caused by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake last year.

The Bohol loop has initial bandwidth capacity of 40 gigabytes per second.

Napoleon L. Nazareno, PLDT president and chief executive officer, described the data transmission network as a game changer.

He expressed confidence in Tagbilaran City as a center of ICT investment and urged interested parties to maximize the value offered by available Internet technologies.

“Certainly your leaders are keen to take advantage of fiber to make Bohol a thriving center for ICT businesses and this way, bring more development and prosperity to the people of this province,” he said at the Bohol Cultural Center.

Arvin L. Siena, head of the PLDT network planning and engineering group, said the fiber optic link allows PLDT to offer in Bohol all its products and services, including the more advanced data services such as managed PABX and UcaaS as well as PLDT Cloud products like Web presence, Web point of sale (PoS) solutions, video monitoring and mobility solutions.

“This means 160,000 call center seats, 41 million PoS transactions and 5.1 million ATM (automated teller machines) transactions,” Mr. Siena said.

The Bohol link also boosts the resiliency of the Visayas-Mindanao loop as well as Mindanao-Metro Manila traffic, making it less susceptible to outages from fiber cuts caused by natural disasters like earthquakes or powerful storms. –Marites S. Villamor

July 28, 2014

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