Where's the free wi-fi?

How long must we still wait?

          We're told that the national government is investing another P1.2 billion next year to put up thousands of new wi-fi hotspots that would provide Filipinos free Internet connectivity.

          The amount is on top of the P2.9 billion government spending this year to build more physical locations or access points where Filipinos may freely connect to the Internet via their mobile devices.

          The government's target is to establish up to 10,800 password-free hotspots all over the country by the end of 2019.

          The extra funding for the Free Internet Wi-Fi Connectivity in Public Places Project is lodged in the budget of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) in the proposed P3.757-trillion General Appropriations Act for 2019.

          House Bill 5337 seeks to classify broadband or high-speed Internet access as a basic telecommunications service.

          Once the measure is approved and signed into law, the National Telecommunications Commission would be given the power to require Internet service providers to deliver rising average connection speeds within prescribed deadlines or else they face harsh regulatory fines.
          We're disgusted that the Philippines’ average Internet connection speed remains the slowest in Asia Pacific, according to Akamai Technologies Inc.
          In his 2019 Budget Message to Congress, President Duterte vowed “to harness the power of information technology to deliver better services to our people and spur economic growth.”
          An estimated 70 million Filipinos, or 60 percent of the population, are now online. Of the 70 million Filipinos online, 69 million are active social media users while 59 million are active mobile social media users.

          The President vowed in his third State of the Nation Address that he would be bringing in a third telecommunications market participant by year’s end to provide effective competition in the delivery of high-speed Internet services at lower prices.

          The question is: Will he be able to deliver on this promise,

which he made even during the campaign period?

          We really hope so.