Image from DICT website
Celebrating the National ICT month 2017, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) made three announcements directed towards fast and efficient delivery of government services to citizens throughout the country. On June 23, the DICT will unveil its National Broadband Plan (NBP), reintroduce the free wi-fi project called Pipol Konek, and launch the National Government Portal or gov.ph.
National Broadband Plan
Last year, in his first State of the Nation address in July, President Duterte directed the newly created DICT to develop a National Broadband Plan to accelerate the deployment of fiber optics cables and wireless technologies to improve Internet speed. In late November 2016, DICT held consultations with participants from the government and private sector. In March 2017, DICT released the working draft of the NBP on its website, and invited inputs and comments until 24th March 2017 (our detailed summary of the draft plan is available here).
The NBP provides the blueprint for a broadband infrastructure that will interconnect government offices across the country and enable the citizens to gain access to telecommunication services, especially in remote areas.
The plan’s vision is comprised of four outcomes: Accelerated investment, Mobilized and Engaged Public and Private Sectors, More Places Connected and Increased take-up rate.
Several initiatives in the draft revolved around laws, policies and regulations, either in terms of issuing new ones or harmonising old ones and eliminating those that are redundant. The other area of focus appears to be on establishing frameworks for private telecom companies to work with the government agencies and with each other and for all existing assets, whether government or private.
Free public Wi-Fi
The Pipol Konek or Free Wi-Fi Internet Access in Public Places (FWPP) project is expected to help in the achievement of digital literacy. The government was previously running a project called Juan Konek with the same objective of providing Wi-Fi hotspots in public areas. 283 hotposts had been created by April 2017, including 54 high schools, 98 rural health units, 53 national government agencies, 8 local government units, and 50 public plazas and parks.
The targets launched in re-launched project are ambitious. Pipol Konek has a target of reaching over 13,000 public places across 145 cities and 1,489 municipalities.
On June 12, DICT also inaugurated the ‘EDSA Wi-Fi’ project for commuters along EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue is a limited-access circumferential highway around Manila).
EDSA Wi-Fi will make high-speed Internet connectivity available at street level throughout the whole 24-kilometer stretch of Metro Manila’s main thoroughfare. This will include all 13 stations of the MRT Line 3, from Taft Avenue in Pasay City to North Avenue in Quezon City.
For this project, DICT is collaborating with the two largest Internet service providers in the Philippines, Globe Telecom and PLDT, Inc. Both operators have been working with the local government and public works units of Quezon City, Mandaluyong, Makati, Manila, Pasay City, as well as the MRT administration and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), to complete installation of the public Wi-Fi service.
DICT Secretary Rodolfo A. Salalima, highlighted that commuters can choose the connection that will best serve their needs, as the two service providers are working on different schemes and access points.
The government portal or gov.ph, will serve as a single website for all government information, transactions and services.
At the Philippines OpenGov Leadership Forum in Manila in March 2017, DICT Undersecretary Denis F. Villorente said that DICT would be focusing on ten areas of priority e-services, drawn from discussions across government, Basics (such as birth to death certificates), Gov ID application), voting services, taxation, education & scholarship, civil services, businesses registration, investing, housing, citizenship & immigration and services for OFWs (Overseas Filippino Workers).
He also outlined how those citizens who are not comfortable accessing the Internet would also be able to access government services more easily, closer to their residence. This could be accomplished by enabling the portal services at say post-offices. Government agents working out of the offices could help those citizens to transact with the government through the portal.