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Better connectivity is set for Baguio City through the collaboration of the City Government and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) sealed through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed by City Mayor Benjamin Magalong and DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II on 25 September 2020 at the Baguio Convention Center.

Baguio City Representative Mark Go along with other officials from the City Government and the regional line agency also graced the event.

The pact has been forged to boost Baguio’s construction of the first Smart City System in the country through the accelerated implementation and roll-out of the DICT’s Free Wi-Fi for All – Free Public Internet Access Program.

The MOA likewise aims for DICT to further the City’s initiatives for the establishment of the City Broadband Network that will connect backbone networks to last mile beneficiaries, as well to ensure that the local government unit (LGU) is provided with adequate bandwidth.

DICT Assistant Secretary for Digital Philippines Emmanuel Caintic disclosed that improved connectivity is expected to be enjoyed in the City starting next year. By 2022, constituents will feel the full benefits of the project.

The bandwidth will be distributed through fiber optic cables currently being laid down by three (3) private partners of the City Government.

“From La Trinidad, diyan na nagterminate yung program ng National Broadband [Program], hindi na umabot dito sa siyudad ng Baguio. So what we intend to do is to partner with the private sector to bring that end of the National Broadband to the City of Baguio. From the City of Baguio, idi-distribute natin,” Magalong explained.

[From La Trinidad, this is where the reach of the National Broadband Program terminates. It doesn’t reach the City of Baguio. So what we intend to do is to partner with the private sector to bring that end of the National Broadband to the City of Baguio. From the City of Baguio, we will distribute connectivity.] Magalong further explained that the first beneficiaries of the project will be government offices, schools, and barangays. Support for privately-owned schools and hospitals are also for prioritization. Distribution to private homes, meanwhile, may be considered in the second or third tier of rollout. Only publicly-owned places, however, will be covered by Free Wi-Fi for All, while other areas shall be served by the LGU.

This collaboration is also seen to help constituents cope with the new normal, especially in the fields of education and business.

“As more and more daily services and activities take place online, improved Internet connectivity is becoming less of a privilege and more of a necessity. The trend towards digitalization is one of the most urgent concerns that the government needs to tackle in the new normal,” DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II highlighted.

Honasan also mentioned that the Department has been engraving programs through Memoranda of Agreement and Memoranda of Understanding to assure that changes in leadership will not affect the current digitalization program of the government.

With its Free Wi-Fi for All Program, the DICT has already provided connectivity to 5,046 sites serving over 5 million users all over the country as of this writing.

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