If the government timetable is up-to-date, select cities and towns in 12 regions will experience free broadband Internet access beginning June this year.
Sen. Ralph Recto said a report submitted to him by the Information and Communications Technology Office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-ICT Office) showed that the government’s free Wi-Fi project will commence rolling out in the provinces on the second quarter of the year.
“Residents in certain provinces have reason to be happy. Hopefully, by June this year, select areas in 12 regions will be the first to benefit from free public Wi-Fi,” said Recto, who sponsored the project’s funding in the 2015 and 2016 national budget.
“This is just the initial phase. We expect the DOST-ICT Office 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 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.
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 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, PCA, Social Security System, LTO in Quezon City, and Rizal Park in Manila.