Free public wi-fi bill hurdles House panel
MANILA, Philippines—Free access to the Internet for Filipinos is slowly becoming a reality.
The House Committee on Information and Communication Technology has unanimously approved the substitute bill for House Bill 1550 or the Free Public Wi-fi Bill.
Kabataan Party-list Rep. Terry Ridon, the principal author of the said measure, on Thursday said the bill has been passed at the House ICT panel on Wednesday.
In a radio interview with Radyo Inquirer, he said the bill seeks to provide free wi-fi access in national government offices, state colleges and universities and other public establishments.
“The Free Public Wi-Fi Bill seeks to move government one step forward in providing democratic access to the Internet. Notwithstanding the issue of the mass accessibility and availability of personal electronic devices that people have to use in order to access public networks, government has to recognize that the Internet is an important mechanism in delivering some of its services, and a valuable tool for people’s participation in governance and in democracy,” Ridon said in a statement.
The said law also provides the wi-fi access will be password-free.
He said the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) has a program for the provision of free public and that HB 1550 will only institutionalize and it implement it on a national scale.
Ridon also emphasized that the measure will boost productivity and that democratize access to the Internet.
“Free Internet has productivity and connectivity value,” he said.
However, he cautioned that free wifi will not succeed if Internet service providers will not resolve issues with regard to slow Internet connection in the country.
“We must emphasize that even if the Free Public Wi-Fi Bill is gaining traction, there is still an urgent need to make Internet service providers responsible for the slow and erratic Internet connection in the country. Ultimately, providing free wifi access in public areas will be futile if Internet speeds remain at the glacial pace we have at present,” Ridon added.
After the bill’s passage in the House committee, HB 1550 will be subjected to debates in the plenary.
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