Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Free Wi-Fi Backbone Awarded, Connectivity Providers for 867 Municipalities Sought

Wazzup Pilipinas!

The photo above is the Chinese Garden in Luneta, one of several areas in Rizal park where the DEpartment of Science and Technology (DOST) – Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Office’s Free Wi-Fi Internet access in Public Places Project is have a pilot run. Soon, public places like parks, town plazas, schools and government offices in 967 municipalities will have Free Wi-Fi Internet Access.

The Free Wi-Fi Internet Access in Public Places Project of the Department of Science and Technology’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Office has awarded data connectivity for fourteen Points of Presence (PoP’s) of the project to a Joint Venture of Innove Communications and Yondu Solutions, both subsidiaries of Globe Telecom, for a sum of PHP 74,844,000. These PoPs are slated to serve as the backbone and distribution hubs for Internet connectivity for the 967 municipalities connected under the project.

Fourteen POPs are distributed in the country’s three island groups and are located in the following areas: Luzon – 1) Tugegarao City, Cagayan; 2) Dagupan City, Pangasinan; 3) San Fernando City, Pampanga; 4) Lipa/Batangas City, Batangas; 5) Legazpi City, Albay; 6) Puerto Princesa City, Palawan; Visayas – 7) Iloilo City, Iloilo; 8) Cebu City, Cebu; 9) Calbayog City, Samar; 10) Tacloban City, Leyte; Mindanao – 11) Cagayan De Oro City, Misamis Oriental; 12) Pagadian City, ARMM; 13) Davao City, Davao del Sur; 14) Zamboanga City, Zamboanga. The original plan to use Butuan City as one of the POPs was changed to Cagayan de Oro City to maximize the coverage area needed by the project. 

Notices of bidding were issued in June by the Department of Science and Technology’s ICT Office for various managed services of the project. Other than the connectivity across the POPs, connectivity linking 967 Municipal Centers (MPoP’s) to the POP’s was also bidded out.

AZ Communications has been issued a notice of award for 100 MPOPs mostly located across regions 1 and 2. So far, 867 municipalities remain without bidders still leaving more than 23 million people residing within them uncovered.

Undersecretary Louis Napoleon Casambre of the DOST ICT Office is hopeful that connectivity for all the sites would be sorted out within the year. “We are inviting our ICT industry partners to participate in this project and help us narrow the digital divide. Service providers do not need a franchise if they are bidding on this project as the customer is the government. We are also calling on International Organizations and the private sector to aid the project either directly or through their private sector partner’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs to adopt challenging sites” Usec. Casambre said.

“Challenging sites” are areas of the country outside the reach of commercial Internet providers and telcos, either by virtue of terrain, economic capacity, or conflict, some sites do not even have electricity.

A second round of the procurement cycle for the various managed services that have yet to be awarded is slated to begin again this August. Total budget for Municipal IP Transport Services (IPTM) for the remaining 867 Municipalities is P226,064,925.00. International IP Transport Service (IPTI) a crucial component of the project, providing 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) building up to 20 Gbps of bandwidth to the International Internet has also been posted for bidding. The budget for IPTI for the project is pegged at P129,600,000.00.

Pilot sites for the Free Wi-Fi Internet project were activated during its launch and are being enjoyed by the public in selected sites in Metro Manila, namely the Luneta Park, Quezon Memorial Circle, LTO main office, SSS Members Assistance Center, Philippine Coconut Authority, MRT North Avenue Station, and the Quezon City Hall.

For more details about the Free Wi-Fi in Internet Access in Public Places project visit the ICT Office website and download the Project’s Terms of Reference (TOR)

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