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Several provinces in Mindanao take a leap toward digital transformation through the implementation of the Free Wi-Fi for All Project of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

The occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic shed light on the immediate need for contactless transactions and optimal use of online platforms to mitigate risks of viral transmission and perpetuate efficient day-to-day operations, particularly in underserved localities. To support every Filipino’s coping and thriving in today’s new normal, the DICT launched its Free Wi-Fi For All Project in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi on September 13, 20 and 27, 2021, respectively. Parallel to this, Tech4Ed centers were established to grant community members online opportunities through free, reliable and accessible internet connectivity. 

Headed by the DICT Mindanao Cluster 1, free wi-fi hotspots were built in 160 target locations —  79 in Basilan, 27 in Sulu and 54 in Tawi-Tawi — and had successfully connected all local government units (LGUs) in the said provinces, including 11 municipalities and two cities in Basilan, 19 LGUs in Sulu and 11 in Tawi-Tawi. These internet facilities, which were installed in selected public places, schools, government offices and ports, promise its beneficiaries with more accessible internet solutions for everyday demands. It also aims to upskill the technological competence of government personnel and local citizens in operating ICT-enabled resources. 

Various stakeholders forwarded their message of appreciation and support on the project’s launching, reiterating its major advantages in battling the regressive effects of the pandemic. 

For Basilan Vice Governor Yusop Alano, the project would allow users to gain access to necessary information. “At lalung-lalo na sa panahon ng pandemya ay magkakaroon tayo ng access sa mga mahahalagang information na maaaring makatulong sa atin para pagaanin ‘yong epekto ng pandemya.” (Especially in this time of pandemic, we can gain access to significant information that might help us ease the adverse impacts of the pandemic.) 

Similarly, Mobin Gampal, a provincial administrative personnel of Tawi-Tawi, remarked that the implementation of the Free Wi-Fi Project would be an effective tool in battling against the pandemic, while Professor Charisma Ututalum of Sulu State College emphasized the initiative’s utility for students and faculty staff in attending to their online classes and virtual meetings. 

With its deployment in other provinces and regions moving forward, the DICT’s Free Wi-Fi for All Project shall eliminate digital divide and maximize technological capacity across the country.

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