Zambales now a Wi-Fi free zone

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IBA, Zambales — The much-awaited free Wi-Fi program touted to boost economic, social and educational opportunities for residents was unveiled on Tuesday by Secretary Gregorio Honasan II of the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT).

Honasan with Zambales Governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr and Vice Governor Jefferson “Jay” Khonghun formally activated the free public internet access program for the province in a ceremony held at the Balin Sambali community center here in the presence of local government officials and heads of government hospitals and schools that were fitted out as live internet access sites.

Ebdane said the program will be a great equalizer for residents who do not have access to modern information and communication technology, because it will give them a chance to keep up with developments in the digital world.

“The internet has totally changed our lives, from the way we work to the way we live,” Ebdane noted, citing the need for blended teaching, work from home schemes and video conferencing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Better internet connection is highly needed at present in various spheres: education, socio-economic, and communication. We have to adapt and not resist,” he added.

According to Sec. Honasan, a total of 64 sites in 16 locations throughout the province have been activated in the initial phase of the program.

Honasan also said that the full implementation of the public Wi-Fi program in the country would also benefit local farmers, who would be able to transact business online, thus eliminating middlemen; facilitate telemedicine applications; enable online education and telecommuting that would further reduce transportation cost; and support more business investments in local communities.

The activated access sites include four locations at the Zambales capitol building; five at the Pres. Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Hospital; and four sites each at the San Marcelino District Hospital and the Candelaria District Hospital (CDH).

The rest are located in state colleges and schools in the province, which were each given four live Wi-Fi sites: Polytechnic College of Botolan; Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) in San Narciso; Kolehiyo ng Subic; and the seven campuses of the Pres. Ramon Magsaysay State University (PRMSU) in the towns of Iba, Castillejos, San Marcelino, Botolan, Masinloc, Candelaria, and Sta. Cruz.

Honasan said that under the DICT’s Free Wi-Fi for All – Free Public Internet Access Program, his department has been tasked to provide, among others, Internet access at no charge in selected public places, and provide efficient and effective ICT infrastructure and information systems to the public.

The DICT’s “Internet for All” program is touted to be first initiative of its scope in Southeast Asia, with a target of coverage of 1,634 localities composed of 1,489 Class 1-6 municipalities and 145 cities.

“We are a step ahead in Zambales in terms of the Free Wi-Fi program because your governor has a plan, a clear vision, and political will,” Honasan added.

Also present during the launching are DICT Undersecretary Jose Arturo De Castro, DICT Region III Director Reynaldo T. Sy, Zambales Vice Governor Jay Khonghun, PRMSU president Dr. Cornelio Garcia, PMMA superintendent Commodore Joel Abutal, and CDH chief Dr. Eduardo Passi. (30)

IN PHOTO: Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., DICT Sec.  Gregorio Honasan II, and Vice Gov. Jay Khonghun formally activate the DICT’s Free Wi-Fi for All – Free Public Internet Access Program in Zambales, along with PRMSU president Dr. Cornelio Garcia and PMMA superintendent Commodore Joel Abutal.

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