MANILA — Providing the public with free, reliable wireless Internet is a huge step in modernizing the country’s Internet connectivity, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Wednesday after filing Senate Bill 58.
“Sa panahong ito ng mga computer, smartphone, at social media, naging mahalagang instrumento ang Internet sa pagkonekta sa ating mga mahal sa buhay, sa pagpapatakbo ng negosyo, at bilang pinagmumulan ng impormasyon at balita (In this age of computers, smartphones, and social media, Internet has become an essential tool in keeping in touch with loved ones, operating businesses, and being a source of news and information),” Pangilinan said.
“Subalit hindi lahat ay may access sa mabilis na koneksiyon sa Internet kung kaya’t inihain natin ang panukalang batas na magbibigay sa publiko ng access sa Internet (But not everyone has access to Internet, which is why we filed a measure that will provide public Internet access),” he added.
The Free Public Wi-Fi Bill aims to provide free wireless internet access in public places such as government offices, parks, state colleges and universities, hospitals, transport terminals, among others.
Internet penetration is highest in the developed world with almost 90 percent of the population gaining access to the Internet. Yet, most developing countries such as the Philippines are trailing behind in terms of adoption and Internet penetration rates.
Last year, the House of Representatives passed a proposed measure on its third and final reading that also seeks to provide wireless Internet access in public areas.
According to the United Nations Broadband Commission’s Report on the State of Broadband (2015 edition), only 39.7 percent of the Philippine population was able to use the Internet in 2014, placing the country at 106th out of the 191 countries evaluated in the report.
This means that a huge portion of the population lacks access to reliable and high speed Internet connection. Therefore, there is a crucial need to accelerate the shift from basic connectivity to a more fully-interconnected digital economy to bridge the digital divide by providing free public wireless Internet access.
“Nakita natin na mahalaga ang papel ng Internet sa buhay ng mga Pilipino. Nariyan ang mga pamilya na umaasa sa Internet upang makausap ang mga kamag-anak nilang nagtatrabaho sa ibang bansa, at maging ang BPO industry na malaki ang kontribusyon sa ating ekonomiya (We saw that Internet has a big role in the lives of Filipinos. We have families who rely on the Internet to be able to talk to their loved ones working abroad, and also the BPO industry that contributes a lot to our economy),” Pangilinan said.
The Free Public Wi-Fi Bill is one of Senator Pangilinan’s priority bills for the 17th Congress which also includes the Sagip Saka, Coco Levy Trust Fund, and the creation of a Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.