MANILA - Starting July, Filipinos may enjoy 24/7 free Wi-Fi access in designated public places throughout the country.
The Department of Science and Technology - Information and Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO) said these include the following:
1. Public Plazas and Parks
2. Public Primary and Secondary Central Schools
3. Public Libraries
4. Rural Health Units and Government Hospitals
5. State Universities and Colleges
6. Train Stations of the MRT and LRT systems
7. Airports and Seaports
8. City and Municipal Halls
9. National Government Offices
Each free public Wi-Fi zone will have an average of 256 kbps -- the lowest prevailing speed requirement for ''broadband'' service, according to the DOST-ICTO.
The DOST-ICTO said they will be prioritizing metropolitan areas in the first 6 months of the project and aims to wrap it up with a nationwide free Wi-Fi access after by June 2016.
DOST-ICTO Director II Nestor Bongato, however, said there will be certain limitations with regards to access in each Wi-Fi zone.
He said they are still trying to polish the policies with regards to the Wi-Fi access registration.
"Hindi naman puwedeng i-open sa lahat tapos tatlo lang ang mag-e-enjoy. Dapat lahat mag-e-enjoy sa isang (Wi-Fi zone)," Bongato told ABS-CBNNews.com.
Under the DOST-ICTO project, there will be designated registration areas, if not a web-based registration system to accommodate those who want internet access.
The agency is considering front desk services for each local government unit for this project.
There will also be three levels of access which will determine the internet speed for each user.
The first level of access will only require the machine ID (MAC ID) of a device to ensure that a real human being, not a bot, is operating the device.
At this level, a user will have 50MB daily data allocation or a total of 1GB monthly allocation. There will be no assurance of fast internet at Level 1.
The second level of access will require a valid government ID for Filipinos or a valid passport for foreigners.
At this level, a user will have 100MB daily data allocation or a total of 2GB monthly allocation. Level 2 assures low internet speed.
Level 2 will also enable a user to access the internet in multiple devices using an account that will be issued by the government.
Meanwhile, Level 3 will give a user 300MB daily data allocation (3GB monthly) with the assurance of high internet speed.
For this level, the Philippine National Public Key Infrastructure (PNPKI) will issue a Citizen's Digital ID which will be subject to certain requirements.
These policies are still under study, clarified Bongato.
"Once fully deployed, the project will serve 105,000 concurrent users with 256 kbps each," the DOST-ICTO said.
The ''Free Wi-Fi Internet Access in Public Places'' project has a total of P1.408 billion budget, as approved in the 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA), much higher than the proposed P339 million.
Director II Bongato said that instead of the government putting up its own towers as Wi-Fi sources, the DOST-ICTO will seek the services of the country's telecommunication companies.
He said the agency is now studying the available packages and will start bidding for the project in April.
Bongato said the ultimate aim of the project is to have faster internet-based government services for the people, especially those in far-flung area.
In its 2014 Q2 report, Akamai said the Philippines has one of the slowest average connection speeds in Asia Pacific, ranking 103rd with 2.5 mbps.
Hopefully DOST will not disregard Apari and Sitangkai that they will also able to be included to benefit the so called ''Free Wi-Fi Internet Access in Public Places'' if they fail the northern part and the southernmostit would be unfair to the rest of the Filipino people.