By JON VIKTOR D. CABUENAS, GMA News, 8 Oct 2019
The government on Tuesday simultaneously fired up 23 free Wi-Fi stations across the station, which it claimed could provide speeds of up to 30 megabits per second (mbps).
At a press conference, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Gregorio Honasan II said the initiative is part of the government’s target to put up 8,073 sites this year alone.
“Ang issue rito is connectivity. Connectivity means getting access to data real-time. ‘Yun ang kagandahan sa technology ngayon dahil it’s almost free, it’s a global phenomenon,” he told reporters at the Army General Hospital in Taguig City.
The Army General Hospital was one of the wifi stations activated on Tuesday, representing the National Capital Region.
“You connect government to other governments — domestic and global, you connect government to business, connect government to our citizens, and connect government to our armed men who are protecting this country,” said Honasan.
Other access points were put up in Dagupan City (Region 1); Tuguegarao City (Region 2); Mabalacat City (Region 3); Morong, Rizal (Region 4A); Victoria, Oriental Mindoro (Region 4B).
Also launched were those in Sorsogon and Camarines Sur (Region 5); Iloilo and Negros Occidental (Region 6); Cebu City (Region 7); Eastern Samar (Region 8); Zamboanga City (Region 9); and Cagayan de Oro (Region 10).
Free wifi stations were likewise put up in Davao City (Region 11); South Cotabato (Region 12); Agusan del Norte (Region 13); Cotabato City (BARMM); and Baguio City (CAR).
Honasan said the country’s major telecommunications companies are service providers to several sites, but he did not elaborate.
“We’re applying the principle of convergence. All institutions, all agencies, and the principle of public-private partnership,” he said.
The DICT in 2018 said it planned to put up 250,000 wifi access points across the country before 2022, when the six-year term of President Rodrigo Duterte ends.
In August 2017, Duterte signed Republic Act. 10929, also known as the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act.
The measure mandated that the government should provide free internet access in public spaces across the country.
Incumbent telecommunications players Smart Communications Inc. and Globe Telecom Inc. in 2016 already started to provide free Wi-Fi connections along EDSA, the country’s busiest highway.
PLDT Inc. and Smart have since increased free Wi-Fi stations to cover terminals and select areas in Manila City.
“We have ongoing discussions with DICT regarding this program,” Ramon Isberto, spokesperson for PLDT-Smart, said in a text message on Tuesday, but declined to elaborate.
Globe said it remains supportive of the government initiative.
“To date we have no concrete agreement with the DICT yet. However, Globe is strongly pushing for the country’s digitalization,” Yolanda Crisanto, Globe senior vice president for corporate communications, said in a separate text message.
“And in line with this, we do have concrete targets for better internet connectivity all over the country which also includes wifi access,” she elaborated. — MDM/BM, GMA News