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DICT says Free Wi-Fi rollout in 2020 increased by 500%

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said in a media release that its Free Wi-Fi for All Program (FW4A) reached a 500% rollout in 2020. The government agency’s previous annual target was 800 sites.

According to DICT, the FW4A has deployed 3,251 live sites, from 2016 to 2019. For 2020 alone, the DICT was able to put up an additional 4,305 live sites within the year, adding up to a total of 7,556 active live sites as of Dec. 28, 2020. With these additional 4,305 sites, the DICT has in one year, more than doubled the total number of sites deployed throughout the entire country, as compared to its deployment in 2016-2019.

“This program (Free Wi-Fi for All) is instrumental to fulfilling the marching orders given by the President to DICT, upon our assumption last July 2019, which includes connecting every Filipino to each other, to their government, and to the world. So, from Day One we immediately went into analyzing factors that may speed-up the implementation and applied the needed reforms,” said DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II in a media release.

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DICT said it made necessary adjustments and recalibrated its strategies depending on the issues that may prevent the implementation of the program.

The DICT said that because of this, it “managed to utilize around 93.89% of its FW4A budget for 2019. The overall utilization rate of the department’s total 2019 budget is now approximately 80% as of Dec. 31, 2020. The availability of the 2019 national budget was extended until Dec. 31, 2020, by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, through Republic Act No. 11464. This was due to the delay in the approval of the 2019 national budget and the remaining unobligated funds of the entire national government under the 2019 General Appropriations Act, among others.

The Free Wi-Fi for All Program is one of the flagship programs of the DICT. Pursuant to Republic Act 10929, or the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act, it aims to provide free internet access sites in public places nationwide.