The project on free Wi-Fi internet access nationwide as envisioned by the Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as the prime mover is underway.
It aims to offer world wide web access in all accessible places in the country, particularly on town plazas, public parks, government offices (national agencies, local government units), health centers, school yards, hospital lobbies, and transportation terminals including trains stations, airports and seaports.
According to DOST Information and Communications Technology Office, internet access will cover class one and class two municipalities in its initial roll out. This will pave a better reach for the originally intended beneficiaries which are the class three to six municipalites usually located in far flung areas of the country.
The switch to include class one and two municipalities stemmed from the low participation in the procurement of providers for the original 967 beneficiary local government units because of the low price of allocated budget for contract for the various municipalities. The total number of beneficiary municipalities now stands at 1,435.
According to Undersecretary Louis Casambre of the ICT Office tenders are currently being prepared for the new municipalities with the new budget which should be available within the month now that 1.6 billion pesos was added to the 2015 unobligated funds for the 2016 budget.
Domestic Internet connectivity to the 14 major cities of the project which will act as hubs for the project was already awarded to a joint venture between Innove & Yondu Inc.
Connectivity to the international internet was awarded to PLDT while connectivity to various municipalities was awarded to WIT, Converge ICT Solutions and a joint ventue between AZ Communications and Omniprime.
The System and Management and Access component of the project which will oversee the nationwide network of access points and provide the hardware necessary was awarded to Abratique and Associates Inc. which will be utilizing CISCO equipment to deliver connectivity to the end users.
The government sees the free Wi-Fi implementation will bring positive result like the findings of the World bank on its studies that every 10% increase in broadband internet penetration translates to 1.38 percent increase in a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth.
As of this posting, the country has 1,501 municipalities in 81 provinces, plus Pateros in the National Capital Region.