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DICT launches free WiFi sites in Basilan, Philippines

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) concluded this year’s National ICT Month celebration with the launching of 20 WiFi sites in strategic areas of Isabela and Lamitan in Basilan.

The launching was led by DICT Mindanao Cluster 1 (MC1) through the Free Wi-Fi for All Project.

DICT is positive that the provision of free internet to the province of Basilan will benefit its citizens during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, a press release has noted.

DICT further accelerates the roll-out of free WiFi sites to reach the remotest areas of the country. It promotes the use of ICT to enhance key public services like education, public health and safety, revenue generation, and socio-civic purposes for the goal of inclusive national growth, the DICT Secretary, Gregorio B. Honasan II, said during the virtual launch.

Complementing the Free Wi-Fi for All Project, the DICT MC1 also launched the Wireless Broadband Link from the DICT Zamboanga City Office to Isabela and Lamitan.

DICT MC1 built a tower in each city and installed these with IP radios to receive the bandwidth coming from Zamboanga, the release informed.

Basilan Governor Jim S. Hataman-Salliman expressed his gratitude to the DICT for providing free internet to the province, especially at present, as the country continues to battle COVID-19.

The advent of cellphones and internet service providers has helped recuperate from the very limited access to communications services. However, the status of the internet in the province is weak, thereby depriving much of the municipalities of these services, he explained.

With the ongoing pandemic, the need for stronger internet connection is seen as necessary for the province in order to cope with the fast-paced exchanges of information related to COVID-19, and the online teaching approach of the Department of Education. The Zamboanga–Basilan Broadband Link of the DICT and the free WiFi is a welcome relief, he added.

DICT Mindanao Cluster 1 Regional Director Maria Teresa M. Camba said that MC1 also plans to deploy more Wi-Fi sites in Basilan in the coming months.

She stated that now that the infrastructure and office are in place, the department will continue to work with the local government units, ICT councils, and other partners for a connected and digitally empowered Basilennos.

DICT has also planned to install free 186 WiFi zones all over the Davao de Oro province under the Free WiFi For All Project.

As OpenGov reported, the province’s local school board (LSB) diverted more than PH₱ 7 million (around US$ 139,930) in funding to purchase transistor radios, WiFi units, laptops for the districts, sound systems, and other materials and equipment for the alternative learning modalities that the Department of Education will implement.

The 186 WiFi zones in Davao de Oro is part of Phase II of the implementation of the project, which is scheduled to start the installation this third quarter.

The Governor noted that the agencies shoulder the monthly subscription fee to the internet service providers; while the schools or local government unit wherever the WiFi will be installed, will shoulder the cost of the electricity bill.

For those areas that do not have electricity, the package includes solar panels.

The local chief executive is hoping that the WiFi project will be placed in time for the opening of the schools on 24 August.

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