ICT Office awards P74.8-M contract for 14 sites under free W-Fi project

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The ICT Office of the Department of Science and Technology announced that it has awarded the service contract for 14 points-of-presence (PoPs) under the P1.4-billion Free Wi-Fi Internet Access in Public Places Project.

The Chinese Garden in Luneta is one of the several areas in Rizal Park where the free Wi-Fi Internet project can be accessed. Soon, public places like town plazas, schools and government offices in 967 municipalities will have free Wi-Fi Internet access
The Chinese Garden in Luneta is one of the several areas in Rizal Park where the free Wi-Fi Internet project can be accessed. Soon, public places like town plazas, schools and government offices in 967 municipalities will have free Wi-Fi Internet access

Bagging the contract is a joint venture of Innove Communications and Yondu Solutions, both subsidiaries of Globe Telecom, which submitted a bid of P74,844,000.

The 14 PoPs will serve as the backbone and distribution hubs for Internet connectivity for the 967 municipalities connected under the project. Fourteen POPs are distributed in the country?s three island groups and are located in the following areas:

Luzon ? 1) Tugegarao City, Cagayan; 2) Dagupan City, Pangasinan; 3) San Fernando City, Pampanga; 4) Lipa/Batangas City, Batangas; 5) Legazpi City, Albay; 6) Puerto Princesa City, Palawan;

Visayas ? 7) Iloilo City, Iloilo; 8) Cebu City, Cebu; 9) Calbayog City, Samar; 10) Tacloban City, Leyte;

Mindanao ? 11) Cagayan De Oro City, Misamis Oriental; 12) Pagadian City, ARMM; 13) Davao City, Davao del Sur; 14) Zamboanga City, Zamboanga.

The original plan to use Butuan City as one of the POPs was changed to Cagayan de Oro City to maximize the coverage area needed by the project.

Notices of bidding were issued in June by the DOST?s ICT Office for various managed services of the project. Other than the connectivity across the POPs, connectivity linking 967 Municipal Centers (MPoPs) to the POP?s was also bidded out.

AZ Communications has been issued a notice of award for 100 MPOPs, mostly located across regions 1 and 2. So far, 867 municipalities remain without bidders still leaving more than 23 million people residing within them uncovered.

Undersecretary Louis Napoleon Casambre of the DOST ICT Office is hopeful that connectivity for all the sites would be sorted out within the year.

?We are inviting our ICT industry partners to participate in this project and help us narrow the digital divide. Service providers do not need a franchise if they are bidding on this project as the customer is the government. We are also calling on international organizations and the private sector to aid the project either directly or through their private sector partner?s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs to adopt challenging sites,? Casambre said.

?Challenging sites? are areas of the country outside the reach of commercial Internet providers and telcos, either by virtue of terrain, economic capacity, or conflict. Some sites do not even have electricity.

A second round of the procurement cycle for the various managed services that have yet to be awarded is slated to begin again this August. Total budget for Municipal IP Transport Services (IPTM) for the remaining 867 municipalities is P226,064,925.00.

International IP Transport Service (IPTI), a crucial component of the project that provides 20 gigabits per second (Gbps) of bandwidth to the international Internet backbone, has also been posted for bidding. The budget for IPTI for the project is pegged at P129,600,000.00.

Pilot sites for the free Wi-Fi Internet project were activated during a recent launch and are now available in selected sites in Metro Manila, namely the Luneta Park, Quezon Memorial Circle, LTO main office, SSS Members Assistance Center, Philippine Coconut Authority, MRT North Avenue Station, and the Quezon City Hall.

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