TACLOBAN CITY – Free public Wi-Fi has been installed in 217 sites in the Eastern Visayas over the past four years, prioritizing health facilities and Covid-19 vaccination sites, the Department of Technology said on Tuesday. information and communications (DICT).
In 2021 alone, DICT spent at least PHP 26.8 million to complete the project in the six provinces of the region, meeting the growing demand for connectivity, said DICT Regional Director for Visayas Orientales, Felix Tabanao Jr.
Of the 217 sites covered by the free Wi-Fi project, 120 are in Leyte, 41 in Southern Leyte, 37 in Eastern Samar, 12 in Biliran, six in Samar and one in Northern Samar.
“Since 2020, DICT has been prioritizing the deployment and improvement of ICT equipment and infrastructure across the country, particularly in public hospitals, vaccination sites and Covid-19 facilities to support government initiatives aimed at mitigate the effects of the ongoing pandemic,” Tabanao told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
The limited budget and growing demand for internet connectivity prompted DICT to prioritize health facilities to help the government respond to the pandemic and recover.
Other sites also covered are terminals, airports, schools, government buildings and other public places.
“The plan is to build our own digital infrastructure so that we can serve our people, especially those in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas of the region. We are confident that this will be maintained in the next administration as it is mandated by law on free internet access in public places,” Tabanao added.
The lack of national broadband in the Visayas prompted DICT to leverage existing managed internet services in the provinces of the region.
For remote areas, DICT uses a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) to establish an Internet connection.
“Coverage is up to 50 meters from the access point. This can support around 50 to 100 connected devices at once,” said Dante Rosales, head of DICT’s regional technical operations division.
Free Wi-Fi for All – DICT’s Free Public Internet Access Program aims to accelerate government efforts to improve Internet accessibility for Filipinos to enhance economic, social and educational opportunities and bridge the digital divide . (NAP)