P2.9B earmarked for free Wi-Fi ?hotspots? in 5,308 sites

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The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is investing P2.9 billion to provide Filipinos with free Wi-Fi Internet access in more locations, Makati City Rep. Luis Campos Jr. said over the weekend.

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?The DICT is expected to spend P1.7 billion next year to put up 5,038 ?hotspots? or physical locations around the country where Filipinos may freely gain access to the Internet,? Campos said.

Campos said the DICT is also anticipated to spend another P1.2 billion next year to provide high-speed Internet access to 30 percent of municipal halls, 30 percent of public schools and 30 percent of rural health units, in line with the National Broadband Plan.

?The new appropriations form part of the DICT?s allocation in the proposed 2018 national budget,? said Campos who earlier filed a bill that seeks to classify Internet service as a basic telecommunications service.

Once the measure is enacted, the National Telecommunications Commission would be fully empowered to compel service providers to deliver rising average Internet connection speeds within prescribed deadlines under pain of harsh regulatory fines.

The Philippines? 5.5 Mbps average Internet connection speed is the slowest in Asia Pacific, according to Akamai Technologies? State of the Internet Report as of the first quarter of 2017.

Mbps is short for megabits per second ? a measure of network transmission or data transfer speed. A megabit is equal to one million bits.

The Philippines ranks No. 100 worldwide in average connection speed. South Korea is No. 1 at 28.6 Mbps. Paraguay is No. 148 at 1.4 Mbps.

In his State-of-the-Nation Address on July 24, President Rodrigo Duterte said government has so far established 400 public ?hotspots? nationwide.

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