According to Quezon City Representative and House appropriations committee member Marvin Rillo, the government has reinvested P2.5 billion in funds to install additional access points for Internet Wi-Fi connectivity.
The P2.5 billion in fresh funding for the Free Public Internet Access Program (FPIAP) in the 2023 national budget will allow the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to expand the country's government-sponsored network and further open Wi-Fi hotspots.
“This time, we are counting on the DICT to speed up the rollout of free Wi-Fi hotspots to make up for previous delays,” said Rillo.
Rillo is also a member of the House information and communications technology committee.
He said, “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.”
The congressman insisted free Wi-Fi hotspots are particularly helpful, considering that 73% of Filipinos use their mobile phones to access the Internet
So far, DICT has installed 4,518 sites nationwide that provide free Wi-Fi hotspots to the public starting June 29, 2022.
The DICT website (https://freepublicwifi.gov.ph/livehotspots/) provides the exact location of these hotspots.
Congress allots P2.5 billion budget for free Wi-Fi
The bulk of the P2.5 billion in new funds for the FPIAP will be spent on free Wi-Fi hotspots in public places. At the same time, P50.7 million will be provided solely for improved connectivity in the country's 116 state universities and colleges.
Under Republic Act 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.
On the internet, in public places and state universities and colleges, there are a P1.4 billion allotment, but the disbursed or released money is only P123 million.
According to the COA, the allocated budget that could have provided services to the public in the midst of the pandemic has not been used properly, especially since students study online.