Funding for free WiFi in remote areas hits P2.5 billion in 2023

INFORMATION and Communications Technology Secretary Ivan John E. Uy said his department has about P2.5 billion this year to roll out free WiFi services in remote parts of the Philippines. 

“For this year, the total free WiFi or Broadband ng Masa (budget), everything is I think around two and a half billion,” Mr. Uy told BusinessWorld on the sidelines of the project launch in Antique Province.

On March 3, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and Senate President Pro Tempore Loren B. Legarda launched Broadband ng Masa in Antique across six sites within the campus of the University of Antique, as well as in Barangay Calo-oy in Sibalom.

For 2023, the DICT plans to increase the number of activated WiFi sites in Antique to 150 which will be located in: the university’s Sibalom, Tario Lim Memorial, Libertad, Caluya, and Hamtic campuses and in 145 barangays. 

“I am glad that the DICT, headed by Secretary Ivan John Uy, heeded our call to bring the Broadband ng Masa program to Antique to install WiFi sites in the different University of Antique campuses, and in other parts of the province, including in indigenous community areas,” Ms. Legarda said.

Next year, Ms. Legarda said the goal is to install free WiFi sites in the remaining barangays of Antique province.

“By 2024, (we will pursue) full digitalization of the whole of Antique, for all of the 590 barangays,” she said.

The free WiFi service will be implemented via a combination of fiber optic and terrestrial wireless-based high-speed internet service starting in San Jose de Buenavista, the provincial capital, and Libertad.

According to Mr. Uy, the next installations of the free WiFi sites will “depend on where we have the funding to proceed,” Mr. Uy said. 

Antique is the first province on Panay Island to be connected through the Broadband ng Masa project.

Mr. Uy said that the DICT is looking to impose restriction on free WiFi use.

These include a cap on downloads and blocks on pornographic and gambling sites.

“We are already developing all those capabilities to manage the WiFi sites. Right now, we are still assessing,” Mr. Uy said. — Justine Irish D. Tabile