UNDP partners with DICT, PLDT to roll out free Wi-Fi for 220 public colleges and universities

June 10, 2022
Charlene Balaan/UNDP Philippines

Bulacan, Philippines – In a hybrid ceremony, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Philippines activated 1,000 free Wi-Fi access points across 220 public higher education institutions (HEIs) nationwide. The access points were installed and rolled out with the support of PLDT.

The milestone, spearheaded by DICT Acting Secretary Manny Caintic and UNDP Philippines Resident Representative Dr. Selva Ramachandran, was celebrated in the Bulacan Polytechnic College - San Jose Del Monte Campus (BPC-SJDM) with the simultaneous virtual participation of representatives from Nueva Vizcaya State University (NVSU). These two schools are among the participating higher education institutions (HEIs) in the DICT-UNDP project.

The activation of free Wi-Fi access points in public HEIs is part of UNDP's commitment to broaden public access to free internet services  and to help provide access to information and basic public services, with special focus on education and health. It is also in line with the DICT and UNDP’s joint commitment to support communities as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide digital services and infrastructure to help improve equitable and inclusive access to basic services.

DICT Acting Secretary Manny Caintic, in his keynote speech,  expressed his happiness for the successful roll out the Free Wi-Fi initiative with UNDP, a project which contributes to the achievement of the  Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Philippines.

"I’m happy to have implemented this initiative with UNDP and PLDT," Secretary Caintic said. "Among the key objectives of the Free Wi-Fi project is to contribute to the progress of several SDGs. That’s why it was strategic that we partnered with UNDP because it’s clear to them, which of the goals we are targeting.”

“Our commitment to provide inclusive access to free internet services in public spaces and government offices to aid learning and to augment the government’s services remains stronger than ever,” said Dr. Selva Ramachandran, UNDP Resident Representative. “I am happy to share that from October 2021 to May 2022, we’ve already activated 1,000 free Wi-Fi sites and that we plan to put up 300 more Wi-Fi access points in HEIs under this initiative.”

Ramachandran also noted that “Internet access made readily available by the DICT-UNDP partnership allows students and teachers to have a flexible platform for teaching and learning, especially now that blended online and in-person learning is the new norm.”

PLDT 1st Vice President Joseph Ian Gendrano conveyed PLDT’s gratitude for being selected to partner with UNDP. “We’re honored to have been given the opportunity to serve and provide public Wi-Fi access to 220 higher education institutions across the country from Abra to Zamboanga. Our task is even made more meaningful as some of the HEIs serve as vaccination sites for our countrymen,” Gendrano said. 

Meanwhile, DICT Undersecretary for Resilient Government Emergency Communications Alan A. Silor noted that: “(the partnership) is in a much better place now.Soon we will be delivering more access points to boost connectivity in the countryside through the program.”

“May this progress inspire us to forge new ideas that will lead to fruitful services similar to today’s Wi-Fi activations. Let us continue working on  building the foundations of a digitally connected Philippines not just for a limited few but for every Filipino,” Undersecretary Silor added as he provided the event’s closing remarks.

"We’re really proud that one of the beneficiaries is the Bulacan Polytechnic College," said Dr. Rosemarie S. Guirre, Management Information System Department Head of Bulacan Polytechnic College. "Internet connectivity is one of the factors that we really need as members of the faculty since teaching online is part of the new learning, this is the new modality. To UNDP, PLDT and DICT, thank you so much,” Guirre added.

For her part, Nueva Vizcaya State University Officer-in-Charge Ruth Raña Padilla called on to their academic community to take advantage of the free Wi-Fi: “As we forge partnership with DICT and UNDP providing the Nueva Vizcaya State University free Wi-Fi connectivity for all students, employees, and personnel, we implore everyone to maximize this opportunity of exploring new information and increase collaboration with one another.”

The activation of 1,000 free Wi-Fi access points in higher educational institutions (HEIs) nationwide was made possible by the DICT-UNDP Connectivity, Capability, and Resiliency through Free Wi-Fi for All (CoRe FW4A) project through the engagement of PLDT. Despite the setbacks from the pandemic, the partnership carried on with installations in key areas at the beginning of the year. 

The DICT-UNDP Connectivity, Capability, and Resiliency through Free Wi-Fi for All (CoRe FW4A) project supports the Philippine Government's commitment to accelerate the roll-out of the Free Wi-Fi for All National Program, under Republic Act No. 10929 otherwise known as the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act of 2017. The UNDP supports the DICT as it serves as the lead implementing agency that will oversee the law's effective and efficient implementation.