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DICT earmarks P7.7B under its 2021 budget for free Wi-Fi program

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said Friday it has set aside P7.7 billion on its proposed P46.6-billion 2021 budget for the implementation of the "Free Wi-Fi for All" program in Public Places and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs).

In a statement, DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II said that the amount will be utilized to reach the department’s target to establish 23,100 live sites by the end of 2021.

Honasan said the DICT plans to deploy the most number of sites in public education institutions —10,300 sites will be deployed in public schools while 1,804 sites will be deployed in SUCs and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) institutions.

“We are aiming to provide every public school and SUC with free internet connectivity and access to aid our students and teachers adapt to the new normal in the education sector,” he said.

“This is part of our commitment to DepEd (Department of Education), CHED (Commission Higher Education), and TESDA to ensure the education sector’s access to broadcast, connectivity and digital security this upcoming school year while the country is still under state of public health emergency,” he added.

Part of the planned 23,100 sites, the DICT is targeting to install 5,644 sites in national and local government offices, 3,300 sites in government hospitals and rural health units, 1,505 sites in public parks, plazas and other open areas, 368 sites in public libraries, and 179 sites in transport terminals.

As of 30 June 2020, the DICT said it has installed 4,248 live sites that are now operational under the Free Wi-Fi for All Program.

More than 400 of these are installed in government hospitals and rural health units.

In August 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act. 10929, also known as the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act. 

The measure mandated that the government should provide free internet access in public spaces across the country. —LBG, GMA News