The Marcos administration is targeting to achieve total national fiber backbone connectivity in 2026, along with its efforts to provide free Wi-Fi connections to all barangays, and is inviting investors to participate in the administration’s Internet connectivity projects.

Information and Communications Technology Undersecretary Jeffrey Dy explained in a news forum in Quezon City on Saturday that the Marcos administration has two connectivity projects  – Free Wi-Fi and the National Fiber Backbone.

“The National Fiber Backbone is now 70 percent (accomplished) in Luzon. Ang target is by 2026 matapos natin from North Luzon to Mindanao and hopefully we are also inviting investors so that they can establish additional cable landing stations off the tip of Mindanao as a redundancy kasi most of our cable landing stations are actually concentrated in Luzon and then there are a few in Visayas,” Dy told the forum.

The national program involves establishing the government’s fiber backbone, a secondary platform in addition to those provided by commercial fiber laid out by  public telecommunication entities like the PLDT, Globe, and Converge, covering 28,000 kilometers of fiber in the entire country.

With 70 percent completed in Luzon,  the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will be starting with Phase Two and Three with procurement activities being undertaken this year and next year that will cover Visayas and Mindanao, according to Dy.

With regard to the free Wi-Fi, Dy said that the target is to put up 110,000 sites by the end of 2026 or by the middle of 2027.  This will cost approximately P50 billion, a significant investment for the government.

The Free Wi-Fi for All Project is actually a law that mandates the DICT to provide free Wi-Fi to public places including parks, municipal halls, public schools, state universities and colleges (SUCs), and other facilities, the DICT official said.

Earlier this week, the DICT, along with the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC), launched the very-small-aperture terminal (VSAT) and Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA) for 438 sites, said Dy.

The proponents eye to establish this year more than 8,000 free Wi-Fi sites that will cover GIDA barangays.

“By next year, ang target po natin ay 15,000 barangays. We are hoping to cover 110,000 sites all in all – ibig sabihin, may mga barangay that will have more than one or two sites sa free Wi-Fi,” he said.

Also this Saturday, Information and Communications Secretary Ivan John Uy led the launching of additional free Wi-Fi spots in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, Dy added. |PND

(PNA photo by Yancy Lim)