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Ceza taps Converge for Internet link

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The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a leading communications technology firm that would build the Freeport’s “digitally enabled” backbone to spur its full-scale development, Secretary Raul L. Lambino, Ceza Administrator and CEO, said yesterday.

“We need to build a digitally smart and ready Special Economic Zone in order to attract major investments, and this MoU is a major step in addressing that need,” Lambino said in a press statement.

He signed the MoU over the weekend with Converge Information and Communications Technology Solutions Inc., a Philippine corporation considered as the third largest telecom firm, represented by Dennis Uy, its president and CEO.

Converge Information has access, Uy said, to an underground Fiber Optic Cable and aerial distribution network and has extensive experience in installing, operating and maintaining a nationwide broadband service.

Under the MoU, Ceza  gave Converge Information permit to exercise its Congressional franchise and provisional authority to “install, lay fiber, operate and maintain” optic cable within Ceza’s territorial jurisdiction, which includes the whole of Santa Ana, home of Port Irene, and several islands of Aparri farther west in Cagayan province.

Converge Information has proposed to install an “underground micro-duct backbone conduit” as well as “underground and aerial distribution and last-mile aerial fiber optic cable” within the Economic Zone.

The installation will eventually be extended to the Cagayan North International Airport in Lal-lo town.

Lambino said all existing overhead or aerial cables as well as new installation would be relocated underground for safety reasons.

Lambino said that Ceza’s overall strategy is to have a digitally enabled and safe economic zone within its jurisdiction,

To stabilize its power needs, Lambino said the Manila Electric Co., the Philippines’ largest distributor of electric power, is ready to step in amid a projected surge in demand in the country’s newest investment jewel.

In a proposal, Meralco cited its “accomplishments beyond the franchise area of Metro Manila and its suburbs” to support its bid to supply the Zone and Freeport an estimated 10 to 15 megawatts of power just for 2018 alone.

The CSEZFP based in Santa Ana, in the northeastern tip of Cagayan province, is almost 100 kilometers off-grid from the nearest distribution line of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines in Cagayan province.

Unstable power supply in the CSEZFP has made it a necessity among hundreds of business locators to keep their own gen-sets on standby whenever a shortage occurs.

“We have received firm assurances that Meralco has the capacity to generate and distribute power necessary to forestall supply shortage at a time when Ceza is anticipating an incoming wave of new locators,” said Lambino.

“This gives us a very positive outlook in the near term,” he added.

Meralco’s proposal comes amid a frenzy of scheduled chartered flights at the CNIA that opened its first overseas flight from Macau last Friday, to be followed soon by the domestic operation of budget airlines.

When Lambino took over the reins of leadership in July last year, he identified internet connectivity, power generation and infrastructure buildup as his main priorities, as he pushed his vision of turning Ceza into a growth and an investment Mecca for North Luzon, strong in industrial and agricultural output, a development hub of financial technology solutions, and a vital transhipment point in the dynamic East Asia and Northern Pacific regions.

In the energy sector, Meralco leads the companies that have so far made proposals to generate and supply electric power within the Zone and Freeport.

Shanghai Grid Electric Power and Technology Co., Ltd. has proposed a 200-MW coal power plant, Eco-Gen Energy Inc. several hybrid solar and wind generators under a Purchase Power Agreement, and First Pacific Capital Underwriters Pty. Ltd. modules of 2- and 4-MW power plants under a PPA for a minimum of 10 years.

While the proposals await further scrutiny by Ceza’s technical working group, Lambino signed a Memorandum of Understanding early this month with DNV GL Singapore PTE. Ltd. whereby the latter would advise Ceza on the potentials of generation and distribution that each of the power-generation proponents possesses.

Lambino said he would also seek DNV GL’s advise on the protocols on how to conserve energy, derive maximum utilization from the power plants, and reduce the cost of operation.

He chose DNV GL, he said further, because of its “expertise across the value chain of energy from resource discovery to extraction and logistics, conservation, power transmission and distribution, policy regulation, commercialization and the efficient use of produced energy.”  


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