Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II and Zambales Governor Hermogenes E. Ebdane, Jr. both aimed to realize better connectivity for the Province of Zambales when they inked a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to provide free Internet access points in the province back in January 2020.

Their partnership bore fruit with the recent activation of new Free Wi-Fi for All access points in hospitals and schools around Zambales province. These sites include hospitals and quarantine facilities such as Pres. Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Hospital, Masinloc Isolation Facility, Candelaria District Hospital, and San Marcelino District Hospital. Kolehiyo ng Subic was likewise installed with four new access points.

Zambales Province is home to identified Internet unserved and underserved areas—communities that either lie outside of commercial Internet service coverage or those that lack sufficient ICT infrastructure to support either wired or wireless Internet connectivity—depriving the public of vast opportunities in the digital economy.

Because of this, Honasan and Ebdane aim to continue developing Zambales as a showcase for ICT initiatives by improving its Internet access to serve the populace, starting with the educational sector who is currently tackling the transition to online and blended learning.

“Our goal had always been to make Zambales a showcase for ICT initiatives by helping the province meet its connectivity demands for the new normal,” Honasan said. “The successful deployment of the Internet access points is a result of the cooperation between the DICT Luzon Cluster 2 and the Provincial Capitol of Zambales, and we are grateful for everyone’s contribution to this initiative,” he added.

Governor Ebdane is also optimistic about the partnership, saying that the collaboration with the DICT will open up many opportunities for the province of Zambales.

The rollout of Internet access sites is very timely for the province, given the increased need for Internet connectivity in the education sector for the transition to blended or remote learning in the upcoming opening of classes.

The Department is continuously facilitating the installation of Internet hotspots in public elementary and high schools and SUCs, including the provision of technical assistance whenever necessary, in various areas across the country in line with the resumption of school activities.

Moreover, the Free Wi-Fi for All Program continues to set up free Internet sites in public places around the country, with a significant number of sites established in designated quarantine facilities, government hospitals, rural health units in order to aid efforts in the province’s COVID-19 response.

Presently, the DICT has established a total of 4,758 access points nationwide as of August 19, 2020, with 12 operational sites in the province of Zambales.

“We shall continue to move forward with the aim of accelerating ICT infrastructure buildup in support of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s directives to ensure that the Filipinos’ connectivity needs are met,” Honasan concluded.