Duterte signs law providing free internet in public places

Pia Ranada

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Duterte signs law providing free internet in public places
Republic Act 10929 requires public places like hospitals, transport terminals, and government offices to provide free internet in main congregation points

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos can expect to gain free Internet access when they visit any public establishment in the Philippines after President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No 10929.

The new law, signed by Duterte on Wednesday, August 3, creates a “Free Internet Access Program” in all public places in the country.

The Department of Information and Communication Technology, as the lead agency, is ordered to ensure there is free internet service in the following areas:

  • National and local government offices
  • Public basic education institutions
  • Public hospitals, health centers, and rural health units
  • Public parks, plazas, libraries, and barangay reading centers
  • Public airports and seaports
  • Public transport terminals

While it would be ideal for all areas in these establishments to have Wi-Fi, the law states that, at the very least, internet should be available in main areas or rooms where internet access is expected. 

These areas include:

  • Computer laboratories and libraries in public basic education institutions and state universities and colleges
  • Main lobbies, hallways of public buildings or transport terminals
  • Assembly points in public parks, hospitals, and health centers

The law requires that signages to indicate free Wi-Fi be placed in conspicuous parts of the area.

The DICT is tasked to make sure that each user experiences a minimum internet speed of 2 Mbps or the speed requirement indicated in the National Broadband Plan, which Duterte approved last March. 

In the plan, the goal is to provide connections of at least 10 Mbps to subscribers by 2020.

DICT is also authorized to partner with the private sector to implement the Free Internet Access Program.

To provide financing for the program, the law also created the Free Pubic Internet Acces Fund to be managed by DICT. Funds for this will come from the Spectrum Users Fees collected by the National Telecommunication Commission and other sources to be identified by the Department of Budget and Management.

Providing accessible and fast internet was among President Duterte’s promises in his first State of the Nation Address in 2016. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.