DICT says Free Wi-Fi rollout increased by 500% in 2020

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The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said it achieved dramatic improvements in the rollout of its Free Wi-Fi for All Program (FW4A) in 2020 — achieving a rate that is 500% greater than its previous average of 800 sites per year from 2016 to 2019.

For the period 2016 to 2019, the FW4A has deployed 3 251 live sites. For 2020 alone, the DICT said it was able to put up an additional 4,305 live sites within the year, adding up to a total of 7,556 active live sites as of December 28, 2020.

With thee additional 4,305 sites, the DICT has more than doubled in one year the total number of sites deployed throughout the entire country, as compared to its deployment over a four-year span – from 2016 to 2019.

The Free Wi-Fi for All Program has been continually reevaluated and redesigned to address its major issues that include the procurement of some crucial network components and the difficulty of some suppliers to deliver their contractual obligations.

As a result, the DICT said it managed to utilize around 93.89% of its FW4A budget for 2019. The overall utilization rate of the agency’s total 2019 budget is now approximately 80% as of December 31, 2020.

The availability of the 2019 national budget was extended until December 31, 2020 by President Rodrigo Duterte, through Republic Act No. 11464. This was due to the delay in the approval of the 2019 national budget and the remaining unobligated funds of the entire national government under the 2019 General Appropriations Act, among others.

Similarly, the DICT said it has also enhanced its overall capacity to implement other programs and projects by strengthening its workforce as it started regularizing majority of its current employees in 2020, as well as continuing the rehabilitation of its facilities and equipment.

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