Free internet in public places now a signature away from becoming law

The measure, which is a priority legislation of the Duterte administration seeks to be a catalyst for economic development.

The government is one step closer to the establishment of a Free Internet Access program as The measure providing Filipinos free internet access in public places is now one signature away from becoming a law after the Senate and House Bicameral Committee approved the reconciled versions of H.B. No. 5225 and S.B. No. 1277 on May 15, 2017.

The “Free Internet Access in Public Places Act” mandates the government, including local government units (LGUs) to provide free internet access in government offices and public places. To see to it that Internet Access can cater the needs of the users, the Bill requires that the minimum internet speed per user be two megabits per second (2mbps). Further, use of available or unassigned spectrum may be granted to government agencies and private entities to ensure faster internet service to the people.

Areas to be provided with free public internet access are buildings of national and local government offices, public basic education institutions, State universities and Colleges (SUCs) and TESDA Technology Institutions. Also covered by the Bill are public libraries, parks and plazas; barangay reading centers; public hospitals and rural health units; and public transportation terminals such as airports, seaports, Metro Rail Transport (MRT)/Light Rail Transit (LRT) stations and public transport terminals.

The program will be funded through the Free Public Internet Access Fund under the management of the DICT. This fund shall be collected from Spectrum Users Fees collected by the NTC and other sources to be identified by the DBM.

The Bicameral Conference Committee is Co-chaired by Sen. Paolo “Bam” Aquino and Rep. Victor Yap. The other members of the House Bicam panel are: Maria Cristina Roa-Puno (1st District-Antipolo City), Rose Marie “Baby” J. Arenas (3rd District-Pangasinan), Gus Tambunting (2nd District-Paranaque City), Sarah Jane Elago (Partylist-KABATAAN), Marlyn Primicias-Agabas (6th District-Pangasinan), Mariano Michael M. Velarde, Jr. (Partylist-BUHAY), Henry C. Ong (2nd District-Leyte), Roger G. Mercado (Lone District-Southern Leyte) and Aniceto “John” D. Bertiz III (Partylist ACTS-OFW).