P2.4B allocated for free public wifi program next year

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By Billy Begas

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will receive 2.4 billion pesos next year to fund the free public wifi program.

DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy unveiled the department’s budget allocation during last Friday’s deliberation after admitting that only around 4,000 of the targeted 105,000 free Wi-Fi sites are currently active.

Asked by Deputy House Minority Leader and Northern Samar Representative Paul Daza if the DICT will be able to use the 2.4 billion peso fund for free wifi, Uy said: “ I’m sure that won’t be enough, sir.

Daza then thanked Uy for his assurance.

Uy said that currently only about 4,000 free Wi-Fi sites are active because many connectivity contracts have not been renewed despite DICT having the funds.

The secretary said most areas had ended their services by August 31, 2021 and “there was no effort to renew these connectivities”.

“Thus, from January 2022 until today, wala pong connectivity in many free wifi areas could have been anticipated. Apparently, the contract with the service providers was only until December 31 (2021) without any continuity plan,” added Uy.

He said there are now many hotspots and routers, “but they’re not on because there was no connectivity and the renewal that is just preparing these connections to renew hasn’t occurred”.

“I was very disappointed with the lack of foresight, the lack of concern in pursuing these very simple renewals that we have the funds for, but there was no effort,” the secretary added.

Uy said DICT plans to reactivate available access points and routers within the next three months.

He said the agency also wanted to offer multi-year subscription renewals to ensure continuity.

The DICT receives an annual budget of approximately 2 billion pesos for the free wifi program since 2016

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