THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said the number of free public Wi-Fi sites rose to 7,556 at the end of 2020, after the addition of 4,305 new hot spots last year.

“With these additional 4,305 sites, the DICT has in one year more than doubled the total number of sites deployed throughout the entire country, as compared to its deployment in 2016-2019,” the department said in a statement late Monday.

It said it utilized about 93.89% of the budget for the Free Wi-Fi for All Program, first released in 2019, the validity of which was extended by law to the end of 2020.

Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said the Free Wi-Fi for All Program is “instrumental to fulfilling the marching orders given by the President to DICT, upon our assumption last July 2019, which includes connecting every Filipino to each other, to their government, and to the world.”

The department has set a target for 5,100 new hot spots this year, including government hospitals, national and local government offices, public libraries, public parks, plazas, public schools, state universities and colleges, TESDA institutions, and transport terminals.

Free Wi-Fi is one of the DICT’s flagship programs. — Arjay L. Balinbin