$288-M digital infra project to boost free Wi-Fi coverage

2024 June 26

MANILA – The recently approved $288-million Philippine Digital Infrastructure Project (PDIP) will expand the coverage of the free Wi-Fi program as the government moves to strengthen the country’s broadband connectivity.

In a Palace briefing Wednesday, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Undersecretary Jeffrey Ian Dy said the project seeks to complete the national fiber backbone of the country and bring high speed internet connection even in disadvantaged areas through the establishment of over 700 new free Wi-Fi sites.

To be financed through official development assistance from the World Bank, the project is a flagship initiative of the DICT and involves the construction of a public broadband infrastructure network.

“We should be able to also provide 772 free Wi-Fi sites concentrating on Mindanao in Region XI… Regions XI and Region XIII,” Dy told reporters.

He said study shows that for every 10 percent increase in internet penetration rate or coverage, it constitutes around 1.38 percent rise in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

In targeting Mindanao, Dy said that though the entire country has an internet penetration rate of 73.6 percent, the disparity is seen to be larger in Mindanao where in some regions, especially Region XIII, the internet penetration rate is lower than 17 percent.

The focus areas where the free Wi-Fi sites are set to be built are public schools, state universities and colleges, and rural health units, he added.

Enacted in 2017, Republic Act 10929 or the Free Internet Access Program in Public Places requires public places like hospitals, transport terminals, and government offices to provide free internet access. 

Darryl John Esguerra (PNA)