Friday, March 20, 2015
DOST to roll out hotspots in 967 towns, NCR, 14 cities Free public Wi-Fi must help farmers, not Farmville
MANILA-As government rolls out free Wi-Fi hotspots in 967 towns, Metro Manila and 14 key cities this July, the senator who sponsored the project’s P1.4 billion funding in the 2015 national budget urged its implementor to ensure that the project will get “more bytes and benefits out of the buck.”
Sen. Ralph Recto who sponsored the amendment to the national budget bill that the Free Internet Connectivity in Public Places Project’s budget be raised by P1 billion, said the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) must choose installation areas which will yield the greatest public benefit.
Recto said “hospitals, schools, transport hubs and libraries must be prioritized.”
“We would like these Wi-Fi areas to create value, promote education, help trade and travel, and be a lifeline to those who are in distress,” he said.
“That’s why I have told the DOST to pilot it in some public hospitals so that those who are sick or those who are taking care of the sick, be they doctors or relatives, will be able to communicate with family members and medical staff,” Recto said.
“If you’re a son of an OFW and you would like to Skype with your father who is in the Middle East because your mom has been stricken ill, then you can do it within the hospital premises,” he said.
Recto said the rationale behind the program is to tap it for social good.
“So it’s the reason why it will be set up in libraries so it can aid in research and instruction, and promote reading,” the senator explained.
Other priority areas should be frontline government offices which draw the longest queues and the largest crowds.
“Pwede siguro lagyan ang Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) para doon sa mga OFW na kumukuha ng papeles doon. Malaki ang ambag nila sa ating ekonomiya,” the senator said.
“It will also be set up in town halls and town plazas. Kaya kung, halimbawa, ang isa ay malapit sa Municipal Agriculture Office, pwedeng gamitin ito upang alamin ang presyo ng gulay sa Maynila. Ito naman ang layunin talaga : to help real farms and not just Farmville players,” he said.
“Or kung nasa Civil Registrar’s office ka at may problema ka sa birth certificate mo, doon mismo pwede kang tumawag sa sino mang makakatulong sa ‘yo.”
Recto said he welcomed DOST’s plan to set up free Wi-Fi in airports and seaports “as these would be a big help to tourists and travelers.”
“2015 is Visit Philippines Year. It is also the year we’ll be hosting 15,000 delegates to the APEC Leaders’ Summit and runup activities. As part of our preparations, we’re sprucing up NAIA, building flyovers, and repairing our roads. Wi-Fi in gateways should be a parcel of this,” Recto said.
“Despite these, gusto rin natin na huwag maabuso ang free Wi-Fi. Ayaw naman nating maging corporate headquarters ang mga iyan ng Facebook generation or tambayan ng mahilig lang sa selfie. There should be users’ rules,” he said.
According to the DOST, access points in 967 3rd to 6th class towns and Metro Manila will be set up based on the P1.4 billion budget. It will also have “points of presence” in 6 Luzon, 4 Visayas, and 4 Mindanao cities.
In all, there will be 9,706 rural links in unserved and underserved areas.
The agency said it will partner with the country's telecommunication companies in this project.
DOST has announced that it is now studying the available packages and will start bidding for the project in April.
In his sponsorship speech creating the Department of Information and Communications Technology last Monday, Recto said “many problems we confront today have ICT solutions which can ease the pain they cause or make them totally go away.
“If roads are clogged with traffic, then the information highway provides a detour. That way, energy is saved, pollution reduced, and mass sanity is preserved,” he said.
“We are now living in the electronic republic, where views of the sovereign are advocated online, and services must be rendered to them on the same platform,” he said.