Recto: Spend Wi-Fi fund on hospitals, schools, transport hubs, libraries
MANILA, Philippines—The P1.4-billion government fund to install free Wi-Fi hotspots in the country should be spent on areas that would yield the greatest public benefit like hospitals, schools, transport hubs and libraries, according to Sen. Ralph Recto.
“We would like these Wi-Fi areas to create value, promote education, help trade and travel, and be a lifeline to those who are in distress,” said Recto, who proposed the increase of the 2015 budget for the project by P1 billion.
The Department of Science and Technology is in charge of implementing the Free Internet Connectivity in Public Places Project. Access points in 967 3rd to 6th class towns and Metro Manila will be set up. There will also be points of presence in 14 cities: Six in Luzon and four each in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Recto, in a statement, said he had asked the DOST to pilot the installation of the free Wi-Fi hotspots in some public hospitals to help patients or the ones taking care of them to easily communicate with family members and medical staff.
“If you’re a son of an OFW and you would like to Skype with your father who is in the Middle East because your mom has been stricken ill, then you can do it within the hospital premises,” he said.
As for libraries, the free Wi-Fi could facilitate research and instruction, as well as promote reading.
The service should also be made available in frontline government offices that have the longest lines and largest crowds, such as the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency. The POEA is also significant given the contribution of overseas Filipino workers to the country’s economy, he said.
Setting up the free Wi-Fi hotspots in town halls and plazas could also be a big help especially if these are near agriculture offices. The free Internet could be used to easily check prices of agricultural products in Metro Manila.
“This is really the goal: To help real farms and not just Farmville players,” he added, referring to an Internet game.
The provision of free Internet in air and seaports would also be a boon to tourists and travelers, said Recto.
“2015 is Visit Philippines Year. It is also the year we’ll be hosting 15,000 delegates to the Apec Leaders’ Summit and runup activities. As part of our preparations, we’re sprucing up Naia, building flyovers, and repairing our roads. Wi-Fi in gateways should be a parcel of this,” he said.
But he also said he does not want the free Internet service to be abused and monopolized by people who spend all their time on social media sites and who do nothing but post selfies all day.
“There should be users’ rules,” he said.
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