Wireless PH in Transit

Jemerson L. Eugenio

The Internet has been a great help in spreading information, giving entertainment and providing news in our community. Almost everyone is using this for it has been a great help when it comes to education, business, agriculture, communication and the likes. Through this, we become cognizant of the modern trends in clothing, gadgets, technologies, machines, inventions, methods, processes and techniques which are essential in nation-building and community development.

Thus, in order to proliferate the fastest internet connection which may be used by many; President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and the Congress propose to make the Philippines a free wifi country as one of his promises during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 2016. However, continuing the unfinished legacy of the past presidents: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Benigno Simeon Aquino III concerning the plan of putting up wifi to provide internet connection poses a great menace when it comes to its implementation.

Early this year, Akamai Intelligent Platform found out that the Philippines has the lowest average internet connection speed in the world and among Asia-Pacific countries with only 4.5 Mbps. Moreover, Philippines is known for having expensive but slowest internet connection among the other countries such as U.S. which is an irony if you come to think of it in a deep sense.

To give a voice to this long an unsolved issue, last March 13, 2017 with a vote of 18-0, the Senate Bill number 1277 otherwise known as “An act establishing the free internet access program in public spaces in the country and appropriating funds thereof “ was approved on its third and final reading which mainly concerns about the setting of the free wifi project in the country; wherein if approved over 1.7 Billion of the 2017 National Budget will be allotted and the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) will be the main actor in developing a plan and making a timeline of this project.

According to Senator Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, one of the original proponent and now a co-sponsor of the bill said that this project aims to roll out 23, 631 sites by 2018, expanding it fourfold to 100, 349 by 2026.

Tracing its peculiarity

Rearing broadband wifi hotspot and delivers it as fast as it could are the main goal of this project. Introspecting its features, according to a DOST Terms of Reference which was released last March 7, 2017, the project will cover selected public spaces such as plazas, parks, public primary and secondary central schools, public libraries, government hospitals, state universities and colleges (SUC’s), train stations, airports and seaports, city and municipal hall and National Government Offices.

Users are provided with 256 kbps but somewhat hampered due to fair use policy. Alos, users are set into three (3) groups depending on the type of ID they have to sign in. They will be given bandwidth cap equivalent to different levels which have different requirements to ensure that a user is using the wifi not a bot.

Level 1 users get a 50MB up to 1GB monthly, Level 2 and Level 3 users get 100 or 300MB with a limit until 2GB or 3GB respectively.

Pushing this to happen, many lawmakers presented their sides on how this will set a mark for our development. Senator Bam Aquino said that this would open up more opportunities for Filipinos; Senator Francis Pangilinan bolsters it by saying that it will give access to the different government services which is a great step toward modernizing our country’s internet connectivity.

Considering the continuous growth of technology, the usual ‘thatched’ flow of communication, the use of gadgets and social medias in our society; counting its boon such as accessing information that is being sent out by the government when there is calamity, public advisory and many more to name; helping the education sector not just with the urban places but as well as in the rural places and finally providing a cheaper alternatives to long-distance phone calls, I think, this project is more auspicious to happen.

I know that this will put a hole in our country’s treasury but getting into it poses many good and long-term possibilities which must be considered for the development of our country.

However, Philippines is an archipelago which only means that our government officials and agencies will be task to exert more effort in order for this to happen.

We all need this for our country’s growth and development, it may be hard but once in a while we’ll be connected with one another sharing insights, doing things and moving up for our country, Philippines. Later on, we will not see our country’s name at the bottom list but on top of other developed countries and this is our goal behind all these projects.

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