The Philippine government will provide free public WiFi in the entire country starting 2015, as part of the project of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). The good news was announced recently after the Senate has approved its budget worth P3 billion, or around $71.4 million.
Once fully implemented, people in selected public schools and state colleges, public libraries, government offices, airports, train stations, seaports, public hospitals, and other public areas across the country will enjoy free Wi-Fi. The DOST have already identified 50,872 free Wi-Fi hotspot nationwide.
Back in May, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto filed Senate Bill No. 2232 or the “Free Metro Manila WiFi Act of 2014.” Senator Recto said that free public Wi-Fi will help farmers, traders, teachers, and students to get immediate access to online information, and for the families of OFWs as well.
“The reason behind this is that if you’re a son of an overseas Filipino worker and you would like to Skype with your father who is in the Middle East because a member of the family has been stricken ill, then you can do it within the hospital premises,” Senator Recto said.
According to the senator, the initial proposed budget for the project was P338 million (around $7.8 million) but was raised by the Senate finance committee. He said the project shall coincide with the declaration of the Department of Tourism of the year 2015 as “Visit Philippines Year.”
Among the key state guests next year include Pope Francis this coming January and Russian President Vladimir Putin with no definite date of visit yet. The country will be also be hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders’ Summit in November 2015.
But while tons of netizens all over the country are happy about the news, Jane Torial, a local blogger since 2006, an expert in the field of Internet marketing, and social activist, talked to Taho News and has some reminders to the public and to the government as well.
“I think this project is great. However, let’s not also forget that Internet connection in the country has an average of 2.5 Megabits per second (Mbps), and remains one of the slowest in Asia. Hope this free WiFi service will be useless if it will serve its purpose.” Ms.Torial said.
“Another major problem is security. Based on my experience, there are still a lot of Filipinos who don’t know how to protect themselves online. We always hear news about teenagers easily being fooled in Facebook, and of course we have tons of scammers online.” She added.
On the other hand, former Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casino said he is worried that the project might be another corruption in the making. “We also know that the country is still under poverty line and we have other projects to prioritize.” He said, adding that his group will closely monitor this project.
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