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Gov’t taps UNDP to speed up free Wi-Fi project

/ 05:12 AM March 28, 2019

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) sealed a partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to hasten the rollout of the government’s free Wi-Fi project.

The move will support the free Wi-Fi program formally known as the Pipol Konek—Free Wi-Fi Internet Access in Public Places Project, which was criticized for its slow implementation.

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“Today as we set to seal this meeting of minds, the [DICT] is optimistic that our goals of providing free internet access and promoting knowledge building among our citizens will soon be realized,” acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. of the DICT said.

The DICT said it tapped the help of the UNDP on Sept. 26, 2018.

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The UNDP partnership will aid in the free Wi-Fi program as well as other capacity building initiatives, which it did not detail. The UNDP is also involved in the exploration of international partners through proposed convergence initiatives, the DICT said.

“Access to the internet is access to services and information. UNDP is pleased to assist DICT to meet the national objective of bridging the digital divide and leaving no one behind,” UNDP Philippines country office resident representative Titon Mitra said in the same statement.

Following the project document signing, the UNDP will conduct area-based network analysis of target sites, oversee monitoring of project impact and continue to provide technical training.

The DICT’s free Wi-Fi project aims to provide internet access to public place such as schools, airports, public hospitals and parks as well as other state facilities. The DICT was earlier targeting to hit 200,000 sites by 2022.

As early as 2011, the government laid out a five-year program to provide free internet through its Internet-for-All project.

In 2016, the project underwent tweaks under the administration of President Duterte and was renamed Pipol Konek. With an initial fund layout of P4.8 billion, Pipol Konek was started in January 2015. However, the Commission on Audit noted that as of December 2017, the project achieved a “very low-performance rate.”

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TAGS: Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), government’s free Wi-Fi project, partnership, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
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