Globe converts school buses in Manila into mobile wifi hubs for students, teachers

MANILA, Philippines — Industry giant Globe Telecom partnered with the City of Manila on Monday to roll out mobile wifi spots in areas with poor internet connectivity while cell towers are being built.

The partnership, which will boost internet coverage across the country’s capital city, was mainly aimed at students forced to take classes online due to the COVID-10 pandemic.

It was dubbed the School Bus Wifi program because it involved the conversion of vehicles such as vans that were once used to ferry students into roving internet hubs. The project also creates jobs for displaced drivers.

The event on Monday was led by Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso and Globe officials.

It is expected to benefit hundreds of thousands of students in Manila from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm under KonekTayo Wifi with rates starting at P15 per day, Globe said.

The areas covered include Pasaje del Carmen St., Remigio St., 853 Gonzalo Gil Puyat St., 924 Bilibid Viejo St., Tomas Mapua St., Alfonso Mendoza St., Dalupan St., OroquetaSt., and Basco St. in Manila.

Globe said the use of KonekTayo WiFi service will be free for the first hour for public school students and teachers in Manila. The company also issued them 289,000 Globe SIM cards.

Globe CEO Ernest Cu said during the launch ceremonies the mobile hubs will temporarily increase internet coverage while permanent cell sites are being built.

The construction of telco infrastructure, long subjected to permitting bottlenecks that took months to clear, has ramped up dramatically after the process was eased under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.

“We sought to develop an innovation that will not only provide this industry with a new opportunity, but will also bring connectivity to students and communities in areas that need it most,” Cu said.

He said the school buses come equipped with solar panels to power the mobile hubs.

Globe chair and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala said this was a program that could be rolled out across other local government units.

“Internet access is needed by students to pursue online education, by workers to continue earning a living while working from home, by families to stay connected with each other,” he said.

KonekTayo WiFi requires no device cashouts monthly fees and modems, Globe said. It was formerly called KapitWiFi, a community wifi service.

JPV

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