THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said it has set a target of over 15,100 free WiFi sites in 2024.

Its other goals include the implementation of a National Broadband Plan calling for up about 2,800 kilometers of dark fiber reaching parts of Mindanao by December 2024, the DICT said in a statement.

This plan ensures “cost-effective internet” connectivity for National Government agencies and local government units, Heherson M. Asiddao, Information and Communications Technology undersecretary, said in a statement. 

Mr. Assidao said the DICT also hopes to launch operations at two data centers next year.

The DICT is proposing a 2024 budget of P8.73 billion, Secretary Ivan John E. Uy told the House appropriations committee on Thursday. 

“The department firmly believes that digitalization is one of the greatest, most powerful tools — not just to improve the ease of doing business but as a means to eliminate graft and corruption,” Mr. Uy said.

Under the National Expenditure Program (NEP), the DICT plus its associated agencies were allocated funding of P9.86 billion, with P355.77 million going to its Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center; P347.95 million to the National Privacy Commission; and about P453.65 million to the National Telecommunications Commission.

The DICT’s proposed  budget had been cut from its 2023 funding level of P10.88 billion due to underspending.

“We have implemented a catch-up plan for the department to efficiently utilize its budget,” My. Uy said. — Ashley Erika O. Jose