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The Philippines to Install 9,000 Free Wi-Fi Sites in 2023

The Philippines Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) plans to build over 9,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide next year. In a Laging Handa public briefing, DICT Undersecretary Anna Mae Lamentillo explained that the initiatives are part of the DICT’s “Broadband ng Masa Programme” (BBMP) to improve the country’s digital infrastructure and support digital transformation efforts.

She confirmed that the government’s digitalisation initiative currently has 4,757 live sites in 75 provinces and the National Capital Region. In 2023, she detailed the plan to add 9,762 new public-access sites and 162 new state universities and colleges as part of the DICT’s mission to ensure universal connectivity and boost e-governance to improve government services for the Philippines citizens.

“The DICT’s Broadband ng Masa Programme, for example, aims to improve internet speed and connectivity in the country, particularly in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas. This includes improving and establishing broadband infrastructure, encouraging more investment in unserved and underserved communities, and advocating for ICT-related policies,” she elaborated.

Moreover, the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure Project (LBIP), part of the BBMP, is set to go live in 2023 to strengthen the government’s network backbone. The LBIP is a 240-kilometre fibre line that will link government-owned cable landing stations (CLS) in Baler, Aurora, and Poro Point, La Union, with repeater stations spaced 50 kilometres apart.

The Luzon Bypass Infrastructure will have increased total government capacity by 50 times, from 40,000 Mbps to 2,000,000 Mbps. The first phase of the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure is expected to be completed in the first half of 2023.

A Landing Party Agreement signed by the DICT, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and a U.S-based technology company allow the latter to use the LBIP in exchange for providing the Philippine government with at least 2 million Megabits per second (Mbps) of spectrum via its submarine cable. In addition, the DICT intends to invite other submarine cable providers to use the LBIP fully.

The administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is accelerating equitable internet access throughout the Philippines. He recently stated that his administration would do everything possible to ensure free internet access in all remote areas. Accordingly, the government will put the (BBMP) in place on all remote islands, particularly those without mobile cellular service.

At least 2.1 million unique users, or approximately 100,000 families, can access the government’s free internet services. During online gatherings, digital technologies will improve interconnectivity and government services.

DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy was optimistic about the Programme’s ability to help establish a “direct connection” between geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDAs) and the government. Implementing the Free Wi-Fi for All programme is one of the government’s accomplishments in improving connectivity. He promised to increase efforts to increase internet access to more outlying areas.

Governments worldwide are making similar efforts to expand internet access to remote areas. For example, Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Informatics has deployed 4G Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) in East Nusa Tenggara.

East Nusa Tenggara (ENT) is an example of a relatively tricky region for commercial telco providers to reach and develop telecommunication infrastructure. However, Indonesia’s government has worked to create the necessary infrastructure so that the public can use telecommunications and internet services to help accelerate the area’s digital transformation.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the federal government is expanding internet service in Colorado and New Mexico, connecting nearly 60,000 homes and businesses to dependable, affordable high-speed internet.

Colorado is expected to cover about 15% of the remaining areas without high-speed internet access and connect 18,000 households and businesses throughout the state. While in New Mexico will connect an estimated 40,611 households and businesses, covering 21% of the state’s remaining areas without high-speed internet access.

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