Last 25 September 2020, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) inked a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the City of Baguio Local Government to fast-track the roll-out of free Wi-Fi Internet access points in public places across Baguio City. The MOA also provides for the establishment of the City Broadband Network which is seen to provide inclusive and pervasive broadband penetration and connectivity for the residents of Baguio City.

The City Broadband Network shall adopt state-of-the-art broadband technology and design and will be using active equipment and components subject to type-approval by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). This will allow Baguio City to promote a high-capacity ICT infostructure that will provide cheaper and faster Internet for government offices and public places of Baguio City.

DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II had been keen on the deployment of the Department’s digital connectivity programs by focusing on the accelerated establishment of ICT Infrastructure for long-term impact and sustainability.

“The need to address the connectivity issues lies in the heart of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s instructions for the DICT—to connect the government to other governments, domestic and global; government to businesses; para may economic activity; government to citizens; for telemedicine, teleconferencing and distance learning and everybody to each other,” Secretary Honasan said. “We hear the President’s directive loud and clear: to connect, connect, and connect. And with this, we commit to connect Baguio City through our Free Wi-Fi for All Program and the City Broadband Network,” he added.

Likewise, the City of Baguio LGU is hopeful that this agreement will enable resilient and reliable connectivity within the locale. “After today’s MOA signing, any time next week we will start the construction of our smart city system. It will be the first part of the system in the entire country which will have a very robust platform. Yung broadband natin napansin niyo na mabagal ang data sa siyudad ng Baguio. Nagkakaproblema tayo pagdating sa bandwidth. This project will solve that issue,” Mayor Benjamin Magalong of Baguio City asserted.

According to DICT Assistant Secretary Emmanuel Rey Caintic, the MOA is of strategic importance in the government’s efforts in improving digital connectivity, particularly for Phase 1 of the National Broadband Program (NBP), wherein the DICT is currently in talks with a number of provinces regarding the establishment of provincial broadband networks that will be linked to the fiber optic cables of the NBP.

“The MOA is for the connection of the proposed National Broadband Phase 1 to the City of Baguio that our good mayor has funded. So from La Trinidad, the City of Baguio will lay down fiber all the way to Camp John Hay and will be able to distribute the bandwith we will provide throughout the city, national and local government offices,” Assistant Secretary Caintic explained. “This is a very important partnership, because of the limited funds of the DICT has, we need the help of the LGUs like the City of Baguio to propagate the internet we will provide,” he added.

The NBP and the Free Wi-Fi for All Program are major components of the DICT’s Connect-Connect-Connect initiative, which aims to improve broadband internet as an information service in the country through accelerated ICT infrastructure buildup.