September 29, 2020

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DICT’s expands Free Wi-Fi for All programme in Zambales

DICT expanded its Free Wi-Fi for All Programme in Zambales. The initiative is designed to improve access to online learning and healthcare programmes by installing Wi-Fi hotspots with free internet. DICT has installed twelve hotspots in schools, hospitals and quarantine facilities in the province. The locations of the twelve units include in President Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Hospital, Masinloc Isolation Facility, Candelaria District Hospital, San Marcelino District Hospital and Kolehiyo ng Subic to name a few.

DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II said efforts in Zambales serve as a showcase of DICT’s initiatives to facilitate faster internet access for the educational (online and blended learning) and healthcare sectors in provinces like Zambales.

The DICT Secretary and Zambales Governor signed a memorandum of agreement in January 2020 that would amplify the cooperation and collaboration on ICT connectivity projects, governance and training programmes. The Governor has given his utmost support and placed total confidence in the DICT. He added that the partnership would open many opportunities for Zambales. The internet would enable the community to explore and discover the potential for growth and prosperity in the field of ICT.

“Each and every citizen, regardless of where he or she is in the region, will be empowered not just for education but opportunities for work because of the connectivity that the government will bring through the Free Wi-Fi for All program,” De Castro said.

Working with DepEd, CHED and TESDA, the goal has always been to ensure that the education sector gets quality access to broadcast, connectivity and digital security this upcoming school year under the new normal.

Secretary Honasan also mentioned empowering local farmers. He was of the belief that if farmers had access to the internet, it would pave way for them to become independent. The ideal of “farm to the market” would no longer be just a dream but a reality to be embraced.

DICT Undersecretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr. said that the endeavor is part of DICT’s efforts to provide internet connectivity in underdeveloped communities as well as in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas. The distribution of the free Wi-Fi hotspots is in line with RA 10929 or the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act. DICT Undersecretary for Legal Affairs, Policy, Planning and Finance Jose Arturo C. De Castro added that the importance of the “Free Wi-Fi For All” programme is to empower all Philippine citizens in the digital age.

The distributed Wi-Fi Hotspot is said to run at forty megabits per second which is impressive when compared to the common household spend of (up to) one thousand nine hundred pesos (about US$ 39) on a twenty megabits per second connection.

There is no longer a digital divide as an estimated 4,922 free public Wi-Fi Hotspots have been made available. The regions of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao are now connected online. Earlier in March this year, the DICT simultaneously activated thirty-one Wi-Fi sites in the provinces of Albay, Isabela, Lanao del Sur, Palawan and Davao City. Forty-one access points are already fully functional in the provinces of Batangas, Pampanga, Quezon and Cagayan.

These areas are part of the targeted three thousand sites in eleven provinces by June 2020 under phase one of DICT’s project in coordination with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). A total of six thousand sites are expected to be given access between by December of this year.

The Philippine President has successfully exercised his power in mandating the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act to which the abovementioned program is a part. This is one of the urgent measures that the government has implemented in an effort to ensure all citizens are served in this state of national emergency.