Remote Islands of Mindanao Get Free Wi-Fi

Date Published: March 12, 2021

The Philippines is rolling out free Wi-Fi sites and Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) facilities in remote islands in Mindanao this month.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) announced on March 8 that the provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao were among the latest recipients of the program. Wi-Fi hotspots were activated in Parang District Hospital and Mindanao State University in Sulu and in Bongao Municipal Town Hall, Tawi-Tawi Provincial Capitol, and Mindanao State University (Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography) in Tawi-Tawi.

With this recent deployment, all 81 provinces in the country now have free Wi-Fi in selected locations. Internet access has proven critical during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, particularly for online learning, business, and public services.

“We want to reach places where there is minimal to no fiber and tower,” said DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II.

In February, DICT said it plans to install VSAT facilities in the islands of Taganak and Mapun in Tawi-Tawi and 24 other communities in the Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. It will provide free internet connectivity to 13 locations in the first half of the year. These include health facilities, schools, and public offices.

Many parts of the country still suffer from poor internet connectivity with metropolitan areas enjoying better services.

A report from global consultancy Roland Berger noted that it is difficult to build telecommunication towers and lines in archipelagic nations like Indonesia and the Philippines. Digital access, however, is improving in general as these countries accelerate efforts to improve connectivity during the pandemic.