Free WiFi in QC and Manila now a Possibility?
The good news: Free wireless Internet will be available in some public places and government agencies in Metro Manila starting July 24.
In a press conference on Thursday, the Department of Science and Technology Information and Communications Technology (DOST-ICT) office said they would start testing the equipment for their free Wi-Fi project in six pilot sites, in time for the National Science and Technology Week from July 24 to 28.
The first free Wi-Fi zones would be at the Quezon City Memorial Circle, the Quezon City Hall, the Quezon city-based Philippine Coconut Authority building, Social Security System office, and Land Transportation Office (LTO), and Rizal Park in Manila.
The bad news: These pilot sites will be using pre-existing Internet connections of nearby government agencies, as the DOST-ICT’s actual free Wi-Fi project has yet to be bid out to Internet ServiceProviders (ISPs).
“What we’re piloting are the equipment providers, which will leverage government networks,” DOST-ICT office director Louis Napoleon Casambre explained. “We’re testing if the equipment is suitable,” he said.
Moreover, DOST-ICT has yet to finish putting in place Internet connections in all 140 government agencies in Metro Manila, which they would use for the free public Wi-Fi pilot sites, Casambre said.
The P1.4 billion free Wi-Fi project actually aims to provide Internet access to 967 municipalities covering 7,112 public places across the Philippines, particularly in plazas or parks. Casambre said to be able to implement the public-private project nationwide, the DOST-ICT would need “3,000 suppliers,” mostly “local providers.” Casambre explained that their ISP partners would range from the “biggest telcos to small providers and cable companies.”
The DOST official, however, takes heart that ISP bids for 14 cities in the metro are already “close to awarding.” This includes the cities of Quezon, Mandaluyong, and Pasig.
The agency hopes to bid out the much awaited project to ISPs nationwide by January 2016.
Casambre said they would like to get ahead of the January 9 election ban on new contracts. “We cannot award contracts after January 9, so we’re trying to move as quickly as possible. We already opened bids yesterday (July 15), [we’ve been opening bids] every week,” Casambre said.
The free Wi-Fi will have a usage cap of 50 megabytes of data in a day, estimated to be enough for a user to check e-mail, log on to social networking sites, use messaging apps and browse simple web sites. With The Inquirer.