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Free public Wi-Fi: Sona promise fulfilled

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte fulfilled one of his campaign promises during his first State of the Nation Address last year after the government rolled out free public Wi-Fi across the 24-kilometer stretch of Edsa starting Independence Day on June 12.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology will be making high-speed internet connectivity available at street level on Edsa with access points available in all Metro Rail Transit stations and in between stations, Malacañang said. 

“Free Wi-Fi internet access, one of the promises made by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in his first State of the Nation Address, is fulfilled this month,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a speech in Mandaluyong City. 

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella
“This is just the beginning.  Apart from MRT Edsa, we hope to install wireless internet access points in other public places and transport terminals as mentioned by [President Duterte].” 

Abella made his statement even as Senator Ralph Recto, the main proponent of the free public Wi-Fi bill, approved by Congress, will not only make internet services available to all Filipinos but will also ensure that broadband services are faster and more efficient. 

The bill is now ready for Duterte’s signature after both houses of Congress ratified the reconciled version.

ICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima said the government requested the telecommunication companies to maintain at least a two-digit speed or higher.

“I specifically requested not less than two digits. This is the promise of our President, or they [telcos] will feel the wrath of the government,” Salalima said. 

The first stage of the DICT’s free public Wi-Fi project covers all MRT stations and Edsa from Guadalupe to Cubao at street level. 

The second stage will cover Edsa from Cubao to North Avenue and from Guadalupe to Taft Avenue, which is expected to be operational before the President’s second State of the Nation Address in July.

The third and last stage will cover the entire stretch of Edsa outside the reach of MRT, from MOA to Balintawak. This is expected to be completed by the end of August this year. 

The latest World Bank report on broadband speeds says that every 10-percent increase in broadband internet penetration translates into a 1.38-percent increase in a country’s gross domestic product  growth. 

“It has been shown that internet penetration correlates closely with economic growth,” Abella said. 

During his first Sona, Duterte vowed that the government would provide free Wi-Fi services in public areas nationwide. With Macon Ramos-Araneta

Topics: President Rodrigo Duterte , free public Wi-Fi , State of the Nation Address , Sona , Department of Information and Communications Technology , high-speed internet connectivity , Metro Rail Transit stations
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