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The Philippines intensifies Free Wi-Fi for All Programme

Image credit: dict.gov.ph

More locations in the Philippines’ Visayas and Mindanao regions will soon have free Internet connectivity and access as the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) continues the roll-out of the Free Wi-Fi for All Programme in public places nationwide, especially in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas.

DICT’s Visayas Cluster 2 targets to provide more Free Wi-Fi sites in 267 targeted barangays this 2021. Seventy (70) of these barangays are under Managed Information System – Geographical Isolated Disadvantageous Areas (MIS GIDA) and will be provided with Free Internet using very small aperture terminal (VSAT) technology.

Meanwhile, Mindanao Cluster 2 is set to launch more Free Wi-Fi sites in the coming months, in addition to the sites deployed in the following provinces and cities:

  • Bukidnon: 99 hotspots in 30 locations
  • Camiguin: 20 hotspots in 8 locations
  • Lanao del Norte: 58 hotspots in 38 locations
  • Misamis Occidental: 58 hotspots in 21 locations
  • Misamis Oriental: 135 hotspots in 52 locations
  • Iligan City: 8 hotspots in 2 locations
  • Cagayan de Oro City: 32 hotspots in 13 locations

As of March 10, 2021, there are a total of 8,170 Free Wi-Fi sites deployed across the country. Following the President’s directive to connect the government to other governments, businesses, and citizens, the agency has ramped up its efforts to install more Free Wi-Fi sites across the country, DICT said.

Considering the effects of the pandemic, the agency aims to further double and even triple their efforts to provide connectivity to all Filipinos to help them adapt and thrive in the new normal through various opportunities found online.

Furthermore, the DICT reported dramatic improvements in the rollout of its Free Wi-Fi for All Programme (FW4A) in 2020, saying that it achieved a 500% improvement from its previous average of 800 sites per year. For 2020 alone, the DICT said it was able to put up 4,305 live sites, which is more than double the combined 3,251 live sites deployed from 2016 to 2019.

The free Wi-Fi programme has been continually re-evaluated and redesigned to address major issues that include the procurement of some crucial network components and the difficulty of some suppliers to deliver their contractual obligations.

Moreover, to continue the initiative, the DICT earmarked PHP7.7 Billion on its proposed 2021 budget for the implementation of the Free Wi-Fi for All in Public Places and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) Programme. DICT Secretary said that the budget will be utilised to reach the Department’s target to establish 23,100 live sites by the end of 2021.

The DICT plans to deploy the greatest number of sites in public education institutions. 10,300 sites will be deployed in public schools while 1,804 sites will be deployed in the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) institutions. The agency is aiming to provide every public school with free Internet connectivity and access to aid students and teachers adapt to the new normal in the education sector. This is part of the government’s commitment to the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and TESDA to ensure the education sector’s access to broadcast, connectivity, and digital security this upcoming school year while the country is still under a state of a public health emergency.

Part of the planned 23,100 sites, the DICT targets to install 5,644 sites in national and local government offices, 3,300 sites in government hospitals and rural health units, 1,505 sites in public parks, plazas, and other open areas, 368 sites in public libraries, and 179 sites in transport terminals.

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