MANILA – Fourteen Points of Presence (PoPs) of the Free Wi-Fi Access in Public Places Project of the Department of Science and Technology – Information and Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO) have been awarded data connectivity through a joint venture of Innove Communications and Yondu Solutions.
These PoPs will serve as the backbone and distribution hubs of internet connectivity for 967 municipalities under the project.
The PoPs are distributed in the following areas:
Luzon – Tugegarao City, Cagayan; Dagupan City, Pangasinan; San Fernando City, Pampanga; Lipa/Batangas City, Batangas; Legazpi City, Albay; Puerto Princesa City, Palawan;
Visayas – Iloilo City, Iloilo; Cebu City, Cebu; Calbayog City, Samar; Tacloban City, Leyte;
Mindanao – Cagayan De Oro City, Misamis Oriental; Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur; Davao City, Davao del Sur; Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur.
The ICTO cited that the 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 for various managed services of the project. Other than the connectivity across the PoPs, connectivity linking 967 Municipal Centers (MPoPs) to the PoPs also went through a bidding process.
AZ Communications has been issued a notice of award for 100 MPoPs, mostly located across Regions 1 and 2.
At present, 867 municipalities remain without bidders, leaving more than 23 million people residing in them uncovered, according to ICTO.
DOST Undersecretary Louis Napoleon Casambre is hopeful that connectivity for all the sites would be sorted out within the year. Thus, he is inviting ICT industry partners to participate in this project and help narrow the digital divide.
He said that service providers do not need a franchise if they are bidding on the project since the customer is the government.
Casambre also called on international organizations and private sector to aid the project either directly or through their private sector’ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs to adopt challenging sites.
The DOST described “challenging sites” as areas outside the reach of commercial Internet providers and telephone companies, either by virtue of terrain, economic capacity, or conflict, some sites do not even have electricity.
Meanwhile, a second round of the procurement cycle for the various managed services that have yet to be awarded is scheduled this month. Total budget for Municipal IP Transport Services (IPTM) for the remaining 867 Municipalities is PhP 226,064,925.
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 ICTO said that the budget for IPTI for the project is pegged at PhP 129,600,000.
Pilot sites, on the other hand, were activated during the project’s launch. These are currently being used by the public selected sites in Metro Manila: Luneta Park, Quezon Memorial Circle, LTO main office, SSS Members Assistance Center, Philippine Coconut Authority, MRT North Avenue Station, and the Quezon City Hall.