Quezon City 4th district Rep. Marvin Rillo has highlighted the need for more free public Internet or Wi-Fi hotspots, saying that such facilities help address the needs of the common Filipino.
“We desperately need more physical locations where Filipinos who cannot afford Internet at home can benefit from a free Wi-Fi connection, and use it to access public services, look for gainful employment, or download learning materials,” Rillo said.
Wi-Fi stands for wireless fidelity.
Free Wi-Fi hotspots are particularly helpful, Rillo noted, considering that 73 percent of Filipinos use their mobile phones to access the Internet.
The DICT has so far put up 4,518 sites nationwide that provide free Wi-Fi hotspots to the public as of June 29, 2022. The DICT website (https://freepublicwifi.gov.ph/livehotspots/) provides the exact locations of these hotspots.
During the recent hearings on the 2023 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) in the House of Representatives, it was learned that P2.5 billion in fresh funding had been earmarked for the Free Public Internet Access Program (FPIAP) under the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
The bulk of the P2.5 billion would be spent on free Wi-Fi hotspots in public places, while P50.7 million would be disbursed exclusively for improved connectivity in the country’s 116 state universities and colleges, said Rillo, a member of the Committee on Appropriations.
The Quezon City solon said the money for the FPIAP is being sourced from the “spectrum user fees” collected by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) every year from telecommunications service providers.
Under Republic Act (RA) No. 10929, or the Free Internet Access in Public Places Law of 2017, the DICT, through the FPIAP, is mandated to provide free Internet connectivity in public places.
The law specifies these “public places” as airports, seaports, and public transport terminals; public parks and plazas; public libraries and barangay reading centers; public hospitals, health centers and rural health units; and public schools as well as public higher education institutions, including technical-vocational training centers.