The House Committee on Information and Communications Technology has started the deliberations on a bill which seeks to provide free wireless Internet accessibility in government offices and other public places.
Filed by Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon in July 2013, House Bill 1550 or the “Free Public Wi-Fi Act” mandates the Department of Science and Technology to provide free internet connectivity in buildings of all national government offices including its regional and satellite offices, in municipal halls and in provincial capitols, in state universities and colleges, in public parks and plazas, in public hospitals and even in public transportation terminals such as airports and public bus stations.
HB 1550 was first filed in the 15th Congress by then Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino.
“The Free Public Wi-Fi Act seeks to move government one step forward in providing democratic access to the Internet. Notwithstanding the issue of the mass accessibility and availability of personal electronic devices that people have to use in order to access public networks, government has to recognize that the Internet is an important mechanism in delivering some of its services, and a valuable tool for people’s participation in governance and in democracy,” Ridon said in the explanatory note of HB 1550.
One notable provision of the proposed bill is the absence of restrictions with regard to public Wi-Fi access, in the form of passwords and other similar mechanisms. The bill also seeks to provide Wi-Fi service in public places free of charge.
Other countries, notably Hong Kong, has similar services. So far, only the city of Manila has such services in the country. If passed to law, the WiFi hotspots will be available in all cities and government establishments nationwide. How it will work out remains to be seen.