DICT on Sulu, Tawi-Tawi projects: ‘Now, we have free wi-fi in all 81 provinces’
ZAMBOANGA CITY—For the first time in their lives, students in Sulu province no longer have to go to computer shops to attend online classes.
All they need to do is stay on campus at the Sulu State College and log in to the internet for free, according to Sonny Abing Jr., spokesperson of the Sulu provincial government.
Abing said the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) installed and has activated free wi-fi with a speed of 10 mbps at the provincial capitol and has been operational since last week.
Internet hotspots at the capitol center, Sulu State College and Jolo municipal hall were only a few that had been activated by the Mindanao cluster of the DICT in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi earlier this month to connect the people to the internet and ensure that no one gets left behind under the “new normal,” according to DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan in a statement.
“This is a great help for our workers, students, so that they can enjoy a certain degree of connectivity,” Abing told the Inquirer on Monday (March 8).
He admitted that the province had been suffering for years from the sluggish connection provided by two commercial telecommunications firms in the area.
“Now, students need not go to computer shops or buy load to access the internet. All they need is to stay in school, where the internet is free,” he said. Face-to-face classes in the province, like elsewhere, had been suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Abing said he expected the free internet access to also boost farmer’s chances of directly accessing their market and increase business and economic opportunities in the area.
“Definitely it will also improve communication, coordination and transactions with local government units, particularly Jolo and other provinces,” Abing said.
In Tawi-Tawi province, Maria Vema Gaticales, an employee of the Bongao municipal government, said the newly-installed internet connection was still a bit slow and erratic.
Gaticales said the system ran smoothly on the first day but turned slow afterwards.
DICT earlier announced it was activating free wifi hotspots in the remotest parts of Mindanao to ensure that everybody stayed connected and no one would get left behind under the new normal.
Honasan said establishing free wi-fi sites in the remotest parts of the country had been his priority as DICT head.
“Now, we are glad to announce that with this recent deployment, all 81 provinces of the Philippines are now connected to free wi-fi,” Honasan said.
Abing said it was the first time for locations in Sulu to connect to the program.
DICT also connected Parang District Hospital and Mindanao State University in Sulu.
Aside from Bongao municipal hall in Tawi-Tawi, the Tawi-Tawi provincial capitol and Mindanao State University (Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography) were also given free wi-fi by the DICT team.
“We are currently carrying out free wi-fi installation, targeting more geographically isolated and disadvantaged sites through the use of very small aperture terminal or VSAT satellites,” Honasan said in the DICT statement.
As of last March 3, the DICT has activated 8,145 sites in the offices of various national government agencies, hospitals, public schools, state universities and colleges, airports and terminals and other public places nationwide.
“My priority has been to establish free wi-fi sites in as many public offices and areas in the country as possible,” Honasan said. “Now, we are glad to announce that all 81 provinces of the country already have free wi-fi.”
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