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Transco pursues telco business

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State power grid owner National Transmission Corp (TransCo) said proposals for it to diversify into telecommunications, although deferred, will push through starting with support to the national distance learning in light of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Instead of competing with the telco industry giants, TransCo decided to use its asset to interconnect government agencies and boost the digital economy.

During an episode of “Straight Talk” on Tuesday, an online program of Daily Tribune, TransCo president and CEO Melvin Matibag clarified that the firm needs a go-signal from Congress to diversify commercially into telecoms but the fiber optic cable embedded in the electricity network can be deployed for government’s use.

“We own the transmission lines but we don’t have the mandate to (establish a national telco.) I made a pronouncement that I want to diversify but since we are not allowed, we are just going to use our assets for the interconnection of government agencies,” Matibag told the Daily Tribune.

“What we want to do is to target local government agencies to connect them because we want to deliver innovation under the digital economy,” he said.

School connectivity boost

Matibag disclosed TransCo is prioritizing the interconnectivity among the schools of the Department of Education (DepEd).
“For DepEd, we want to develop a technology that would help improve education. We should connect our school with our global partners to improve the quality of education,” he affirmed.

“Right now, we are servicing 22 government agencies with our fiber-optic lines. With the help of DICT, we have an agreement that we can use fiber optics for government interconnection because we need it now,” he added.
Matibag previously proposed to diversify into telco since TransCo is “the owner of the (transmission) facilities.”

But due to the delayed amendment of TransCo’s charter, the proposal was shelved indefinitely.

Not part of concession

Created under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, TransCo owns and operates the power transmission system that links power plants to electric distribution utilities nationwide.

EPIRA mandated the privatization of TransCo through an outright sale or management concession agreement.

In December 2007, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) bagged the TransCo contract through a public auction.

The NGCP secured a congressional franchise to operate the transmission network through Republic Act 9511.

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