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Free WiFi across Manila, suburbs mulled

Posted On 2014 Jun 08
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A man poses with a tablet on June 26, 2012, in the Parisian metro, on the inauguration day of a free Wi-Fi access available in forty-six Paris' public transportation sites including platforms of three underground stations.  AFP PHOTO FRANCOIS GUILLOT

A man poses with a tablet on June 26, 2012, in the Parisian metro, on the inauguration day of a free Wi-Fi access available in forty-six Paris’ public transportation sites including platforms of three underground stations. AFP PHOTO FRANCOIS GUILLOT

MANILA (Mabuhay) – The government can provide free WiFi connection in Metro Manila in a year’s time if provided sufficient funds, a Department of Science and Technology (DOST) official told a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

Louis Casambre, executive director of the DOST Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO), said the bill proposing free wireless connection in public areas in the country’s capital region is “very implementable.”

“If you consider in Metro Manila, the broadband infrastructure is quite in place, as provided by telecommunications companies. The investment will be more on operating cost and not investment cost,” Casambre said during a Senate science and technology committee hearing on Tuesday.

The panel is deliberating a measure filed earlier by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto requiring the government  to provide free wireless Internet in government buildings, national highways and train stations in Metro Manila.

Casambre further said that providing free public WiFi in Metro Manila is “absolutely” necessary for economic growth.

He cited a World Bank study showing that the gross domestic product (GDP) of a country grows by 1.23 percent for every 10 percent growth in broadband penetration.

The ICTO official further said that the government may need to shell out P1 billion a year to support the free WiFi service in Metro Manila.

“For the estimates that we did, the cost of, let’s say, P1 billion a year will support 90,000 simultaneous users. Of course when people access the Internet, it’s not always simultaneous. If you go to that cost, it would be able to support 180,000. With a population of Metro Manila at 11 million, the amount is feasible,” Casambre said. (MNS)

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