MANILA, Philippines – The government is investing P1.16 billion in 2019 to put up close to 11,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots around the country.
Makati City Representative Luis Campos Jr said in a statement on Saturday, August 4, that the fund is lodged under the P5.03-billion budget of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
The first cash-based budget of the government, the 2019 National Expenditure Program (NEP) amounts to P3.757 trillion ($70.24 billion), representing 19.3% of the projected gross domestic product (GDP) for 2019.
Cash-based budgeting means that agencies have to spend their funds and implement their projects within the year. Unlike previous years’ obligation-based budgets, contracts have to be completed by the end of 2019.
“The amount is on top of the P2.9 billion government spending this year to build more physical locations or access points where Filipinos may freely connect to the internet via their mobile devices,” Campos said.
“The target is to establish up to 10,800 password-free hotspots all over the country by the end of 2019,” he added.
Under the 2018 obligation-based budget, DICT allocated some P1.36 billion for its Free Internet Wi-Fi Connectivity in Public Places program. It’s cash-based equivalent amounts to P1.05 billion.
In 2018, DICT’s program for infrastructure development amounted to P2.9 billion under obligation-based budgeting, or P2.26 billion under cash-based. budgeting Allocation for the program for next year amounts to P2.51 billion, up by P200 million friom this year.
Apart from public places, the DICT also allocated some P279.9 million next year to put up Wi-Fi connectivity in state universities and colleges.
In 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 10929 or the Free Internet Access Program Act requiring public places like hospitals, transport terminals, and government offices to provide free internet access.
According to the January report of Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index, Philippine mobile broadband speeds is at 12.55 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 5.86 Mbps upload.
This figure is below the global average of 22.23 Mbps download and 8.94 Mbps upload.– Rappler.com