Monday, November 21, 2016

MASBATE: Free Wi-Fi in public areas soon

MASBATE CITY, 11/20/2016—Residents of Masbate province would soon access the internet for free in several public areas as the newly established Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) works to plug the limited information in the countryside.


Information and Communications Technology Assistant Secretary John Henry D. Naga signed Monday a memorandum of agreement with Masbate Governor Antonio T. Kho for the provision of free Wi-Fi services for provincewide coverage by next year.

The service will be available in public areas such as public schools, plazas and parks, government hospitals and rural health units, seaports, airport, national government and local government buildings, according to Nonielon Bagalihog Jr., head of the governor’s information office.

Masbate, the southernmost province of Bicol region with a population of 892,393, is one of the priority areas for DICT’s “Juan, Konek! Free Wi-Fi Internet Access in Public Places Project.”

The measure comes after President Duterte, in his State of the Nation Address in July, promised free internet connection during his administration.

Although no details were given during the signing between the governor and the DICT as to how the government would deliver the state-funded service considering the government does not own a broadband network, ICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima shed light on the matter in a recent onscreen interview.

“The government will pay something to the telecom companies in exchange for the Wi-Fi connection and we offer it to the citizens for free,” Salalima said during an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source that was aired on Nov. 7 and has been uploaded to YouTube.

Salalima downplayed concerns that the free Wi-Fi access is expected to limit data revenue prospects for Globe Telecom Inc. and Smart Communications, saying the free wireless service is in keeping with the government’s bid to widen people’s internet connectivity, which the Duterte administration has deemed a human right.

“It is the duty of the government to see to it that the people who have no access to the telecommunication system be given the opportunity to enjoy the right to telecommunicate,” he said.

With internet speed of 256 kilobits per second, the free service will let the users do basic internet searches or access to Facebook.

Masbate Vice-Governor Jo Kristine C. Revil, who witnessed the signing, hailed the free Wi-Fi access as a “step forward,” saying people in Masbate are “looking forward to the implementation of this MOA in 2017.”

Other witnesses to the signing were town mayors including Arturo Virtucio of Aroroy; Byron Angelo E. Bravo, San Fernando; Charmax Yuson, Batuan; Zacarina A. Lazaro, San Pascual; and Kristine Hao, Mandaon. (EAD/PIA5-Masbate)
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