The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has more than doubled the deployment of free wifi service in the country in 2020 compared with the last three years to address demand for internet connectivity.
DICT reported dramatic improvements in the rollout of its Free Wi-Fi for All Program (FW4A) last year, achieving a rate that is 500 percent greater than its previous average of 800 sites per year from 2016 to 2019.
For 2020, DICT said it was able to put up additional 4,305 live sites, compared with 3,251 deployed in 2016 to 2019, now totaling 7,556 active live sites.
“This program 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,” Gregorio Honasan II, DICT secretary, said in a statement.
FW4A has been continually re-evaluated and redesigned to address major issues that include the procurement of some crucial network components and the difficulty of some suppliers to deliver their contractual obligations.
As a result, DICT said it managed to utilize around 93.89 percent of its FW4A budget for 2019. The overall utilization rate of DICT’s total 2019 budget is now approximately 80 percent as of end-December last year.
The availability of the 2019 national budget was extended until Dec. 31, 2020, by President 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.
DICT also said it enhanced its overall capacity to implement other programs and projects by strengthening its human resource complement as it started regularizing majority of its current workforce.