TRANSCO teams up with DepEd on high-speed internet for public schools

The National Transmission Corp. (Transco) has succeeded in testing and applying emerging ICT technologies that will make use of existing power line infrastructures to help the Department of Education (DepEd) to implement the Public Education Network program of DepEd that will provide connectivity and high-speed internet to public schools nationwide amid the pandemic.

Transco President-CEO Melvin Matibag said the Public Education Network-Communications Infrastructure for Learning (PEN-CIL) project would address the challenges of DepEd in ensuring the continuity of learning amid the pandemic and the expected transition to the New Normal by providing internet connectivity in all public schools.

He said Transco would be involved through its Project Lightning in designing, developing and operating the PEN-CIL system with the goal of making the country’s basic education system more resilient especially in times of calamities and crises.

The internet system will be developed with the cooperation of the electric cooperatives nationwide by lending to the government their power lines for the high-speed internet connection that will prioritize the remote rural areas that are expected to be left out by the Telcos due to commercial viability issues.

In Matibag’s report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, he said PEN-CIL will be piloted at the Baguio Teachers Camp where all buildings and facilities are not yet connected to the internet.

“The PEN-CIL project will maximize the utilization of TransCo assets and utilize the electric cooperatives’ assets. This will translate into new revenues for Transco when it performs the function of administrator and system operator of the DepEd’s PEN-CIL while it is able to support the government’s development objectives,” Matibag said during a recent executive committee (Execom) meeting of the Department of Finance (DOF) for state corporations under its supervision.

Matibag said the positive spillover effect of PEN-CIL is that other government agencies can ride on this national internet network and, in turn, help complete the National Broadband Plan of the Department of Information and Communication Technologies (DICT).

Dominguez, who chairs the board of directors of Transco, commended the corporation for the progress of the PEN-CIL and its other projects.

“Congratulations on your good progress on the projects,” Dominguez said.

Matibag said using new technologies, Transco’s Project Lightning will enable the transfer of large amounts of data at extremely high speeds using existing power lines, without the need for the installation of new cellphone towers or laying of fiber optic cables.

Under Project Lightning, Transco conducted technology scanning and development on emerging ICT technologies for resilient power grids from 2018 to 2021, Matibag said.

“Through laboratory tests and live trials with the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) power distribution system, Transco concluded that two newly invented technologies can transmit large data at very high speed and can be rapidly deployed using the existing power lines infrastructure,” Matibag said.

Project Lightning will primarily benefit public schools located in remote areas where the construction of broadband facilities would prove too expensive and unprofitable for private telecommunications service providers.

During the Execom meeting, Matibag also briefly discussed Transco’s other priority projects such as the interconnection to the Luzon grid and System Operation while waiting for the interconnection of the island-provinces of Palawan, Mindoro, and Catanduanes to provide affordable, reliable, and stable electricity supply to these areas. (DOF)