Philippines to establish free nationwide Wi-Fi by 2016

8 Sep 2015

According to Bloomberg, the government of the Philippines has set out its stall to roll out free Wi-Fi services to at least half of all towns and cities by end-2015, rising to full coverage by end-2016, although it warns that the initiative threatens to curtail the data revenue generating opportunities for heavyweights Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Globe Telecom. Monchito Ibrahim, deputy executive director of the Information and Communications Technology Office, is quoted as saying that the new service will cost the state around PHP1.5 billion (USD32 million) per annum and will be available in sites such as schools, hospitals, airports and public parks. Speaking in an interview last week, Ibrahim confirmed that the government’s primary focus is ‘on areas that absolutely don’t have access,’ offering faster and (obviously) cheaper data services than those offered by the two telcos. ‘If subscribers move to using free public Wi-Fi, telecoms may need to lure them into getting higher-end services,’ Ibrahim noted, suggesting that PLDT and Globe will need to commit significant CAPEX in future to boost their network coverage and data speeds to entice users.