Free wi-fi project gets P3-B budget

November 27, 2014 at 10:41

By Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 22, 2014 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate has approved an increase in the budget of the Public Wi-Fi Program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) from P338 million to P3 billion for 2015 in order to set up more wi-fi hotspots in the country.

The DOST will put up 50,872 wi-fi hotspots with the increased program budget, the initial batch of which would be rolled out next year.

These will include 7,917 public high schools, 38,694 public elementary schools, 113 state colleges and 1,118 public libraries and public spaces in 1,490 towns.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, chairman of the finance subcommittee that tackled DOST’s proposed budget for 2015, said the budget increase for the wi-fi program was accomplished because the Senate deferred by one year the Department of Budget and Management’s lease-purchase of laptops, which would later be issued to selected government employees.

“I think it is the win-win situation. We set up the access points first. Because right now, teachers, for instance, already own smartphones. Their problem is that they cannot connect to the Internet. Once this is set up, then we bring in the laptops,” Recto explained.

He noted that the increase in the wi-fi program’s budget would benefit public school students, farmers and traders by making them connected to the rest of the country and by bringing them information that is relevant to their lives.

Based on the blueprint submitted by the DOST to the Senate, the wi-fi hotspots will also be installed in 895 provincial and regional hospitals as well as state-run medical centers in Metro Manila.

“The reason behind this is that if you’re a son of an overseas Filipino worker and you would like to Skype with your father who is in the Middle East because a member of the family has been stricken ill, then you can do it within the hospital premises,” Recto said.

“Or if the hospital staff would like to transmit patient data, then there’s a facility for that,” he added.

In the case of schools and public libraries, Recto said that making them connected would aid in research and instruction and promote reading among the country’s youth.

Public Employment Service Offices would also be covered by the program of the DOST, which Recto said would help the unemployed in looking for jobs.

“It will also be set up in town halls. So if one is near the Municipal Agriculture Office, it could be used to find out the price of produce in Manila. This is the objective of the program: to help real farms and not just to play Farmville,” Recto said.

Even transport hubs would benefit from the program as the DOST would also be installing wi-fi hotspots in 85 airports, 41 seaports and 69 train stations.

“If our vehicular highways are congested, then we should tap the information highway and we can telecommute if the infra is there,” Recto said.



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