Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto today called on the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to work double time and live up to its commitment to provide free broadband internet access in 12 regions beginning next month.
“I expect the DOST to abide by their commitment. The government’s free Wi-Fi project must roll out and be operational next month in time for the opening of classes this school year,” said Recto, who sponsored the project’s funding in the 2015 and 2016 national budget.
“The President is leaving office next month. Let free public Wi-Fi be one of his parting gifts to the nation,” the senator added.
According to Recto, a report submitted to him by the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) of the DOST showed that the government’s free Wi-Fi project will commence rolling out in the provinces on the second quarter of the year.
“For millions of Filipinos in the provinces, particularly the youth, this is Christmas in June. Hopefully, beginning next month, select areas in 12 regions will be the first to benefit from free public Wi-Fi,” said Recto, whose re-election bid is being supported by three presidential candidates.
“This is just the initial phase. We expect the DOTC-ICTO to expand the coverage of free Wi-Fi to all regions in the coming months,” the senator added.
Areas identified for the initial phase include the following:
- NCR (186 Sites)
- Region 1 (257 Sites)
- Region 2 (13 Sites)
- Region 3 (96 Sites)
- Region 4A (135 Sites)
- Region 4B (29 Sites)
- Region 5 (60 Sites)
- Region 6 (31 Sites)
- Region 7 (83 Sites)
- Region 8 (66 Sites)
- Region 9 (29 Sites)
- Region 11 (64 Sites)
The ambitious undertaking, officially called the Free Wi-Fi Internet Access in Public Places Project, aims to provide free broadband Internet access to 1,462 Class 1-6 municipalities, and 44 key cities nationwide.
Under the original plan, no-charge Wi-Fi access will be set up in selected airports, hospitals, public schools, plazas, seaports, government offices and other public places.
“Our students, both in public and private schools, need not spend their precious pesos in internet cafes for research purposes. Knowledge will be at their fingertips, for free 24/7,” Recto pointed out.
“Not only students will benefit greatly from this project. Transactions in government agencies will also be seamless and hopefully, hassle-free,” he added.
The idea, Recto explained, is to choose installation areas which will yield the greatest public benefit.
“And this is what DOST Secretary Mario Montejo and his team are doing: making sure the government gets more bytes and benefits out of the buck,” Recto said.
Under the sponsorship of Recto, the project was allocated a budget of P1.4 billion in 2015 and P1.65B this year.
Recto said free Wi-Fi access in major government hospitals is also important so that the sick and those who take care or treat them “can have a lifeline they can use to call a friend.”
Communication is important for families whose loved ones are admitted in hospitals, he stressed.
“If you’re a son of an OFW and you would like to get in touch with your father because your mom has been stricken ill, then you can do it within the hospital premises,” he said.
According to Recto, the installation of a Wi-Fi service in a Land Transportation Office (LTO) station in Quezon City is also a good start.
“Ang concept kasi na ipinaliwanag sa akin is to install it in frontline government offices which draw the longest queues and the largest crowds,” he said.
“If you’re at the NSO at may problema ka sa birth certificate mo, kung may access doon, pwede mong i-Viber ang kailangan pang dokumento,” Recto said.
Recto also welcomed DOST’s plan to set up free Wi-Fi in airports and seaports “as these would be a big help to tourists and travelers.”
Six initial sites chosen by the DOST for its pilot test in Metro Manila last year are Quezon City Memorial Circle, Quezon City Hall, PHILCOA, Social Security System, LTO in Quezon City, and Rizal Park in Manila.
- Keynote Speech: From fighting crime to cutting red tape, how DICT can help, National ICT Summit 2016, Novotel Hotel, Quezon City, 28 June 2016
- Recto: DICT to make Phl an electronic republic, 24 May 2016
- Recto: 12 regions to get free public Wi-Fi by June, 17 April 2016
- Recto: Prioritize free Wi-Fi in public hospitals, airports, MRT, 26 July 2015
- DOST to roll out hotspots in 967 towns, NCR, 14 cities, 21 March 2015
- Sponsorship Speech: Future proofing our country: Why DICT is an app we need, 16 March 2015
- Keynote Speech: The Importance of a Department of Information and Communications Technology, First General Membership Meeting – Infocomm Technology Association of the Philippines (ITAP), 24 February 2015
- Senate OKs funding for 51,000 free Wi-Fi spots, 21 November 2014
- Faster internet speed pressed, 28 May 2014
SENATE BILLS/AUTHORED LAWS
- Republic Act No. 10844: Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Act of 2015, 23 May 2016
- Senate Bill No. 2686: Creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), 16 March 2015
- Senate Bill No. 2124: ICT in Education Act of 2016, 17 February 2014