DICT seeking more funds for broadband, free Wi-Fi

THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) asked the Senate Tuesday for a budget increase of more than P20 billion for the improvement of Internet speed and reliability.

The department had proposed to the government a budget of P18.1 billion for the National Broadband Program (NBP) and P6.3 billion for the free Wi-Fi project, but was only given P902 million and P2.72 billion, respectively.

“The expenditure program approved P902 million. Just look at the discrepancy, that is for the National Broadband Program out of the 18 billion we suggested,” DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II told the Senate Finance sub-committee, led by Senator Panfilo M. Lacson.

“Of the P6 billion for free Wi-Fi, ang in-approve ay (they approved) P2.72 billion.”

Mr. Honasan asked the Senate for an additional P17 billion allocation for the NBP and P3.6 billion for the free Wi-Fi project.

In a statement, the DICT said the additional funds will allow the department to start the second phase of the NBP and cover Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao by 2022.

For the first phase, the department will activate the Cable Landing station in Baler, Aurora and connect the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines Node in San Fernando, La Union through the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure.

“DICT will then activate and light up 4 DICT nodes and 15 NGCP nodes that will connect with the various DICT equipment. From there, we will be able to provide bandwidth to nearby govnet clients and Free-WiFi beneficiaries,” it said.

The DICT also noted that NBP will allow the government to save P720 million in Internet subscription expenses in the first year.

The NBP will lower the Internet expenditure of government agencies to P5,000 monthly or P60,000 per year from the current P35,000 monthly, or P420,000 per year.

Mr. Lacson committed to raise the DICT budget for the NBP and free Wi-Fi.

“In this day and age of modern information technology, we have no reason not to catch up or to be at par with neighboring countries, considering that potential investors’ first concern would be Internet speed,” he said.

“I am a believer in ICT because there is so much we can do if our ICT is efficient.” — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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