Free internet to be launched in Baguio City

BAGUIO City and Benguet Province will soon benefit from Republic Act 10929 or an act establishing the free internet access program in public places.

In the third and final public consultation held in the city, Department of Information and Communications Technology Assistant Secretary Carlos Caliwara said this is consistent to the wishes of President Rodrigo Duterte for every Filipino to be connected to the internet.

RA 10929 designates the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) as the lead agency to oversee the effective and efficient implementation of the law.

The DICT, in coordination with the Inter-Agency Council Against Child Pornography and in consultation with telecommunication companies, will develop standards and mechanisms for the protection of children online, consistent with existing laws on the rights and protection of children’s welfare.

The law also allows the DICT to form partnership with the private sector to promote an “efficient and cost-effective” delivery of the free Internet access for public places. It also prohibits preferential treatment to a single telecommunication firm to prevent restricted Internet access.

Those found violating will be subject to administrative penalties under existing civil service laws, rules and regulations.

Part of RA 1029 reads unfair methods of competition and exclusivity arrangements in favor of a single telecommunications entity shall be prohibited to promote the free unrestricted access to public places covered under this Act.

“it will be very competitive since government will provide something productive which would post a challenge to all of them in a free enterprise democratic country where good service will be the bench mark for our telco partners to engage in business opportunities" Caliwara explained.

The law indicated the public to get free internet access in national and local government offices, public basic education institutions, state universities and colleges, technology institutions, public hospitals, health centers, and rural health units, public parks, plazas, libraries and barangay reading centers, public airports and seaports, public transport terminals, while prohibits access to pornographic websites.

"Republic Act 10929 which is now in effect with the Implementing Rules and Regulations through public consultation having its last leg in Baguio City after the Davao and Iloilo leg, which have formulated possible revisions and recommendations from all sectors that will be included in the final draft of the law by the legal team prior to its replications to various heads of agencies prior to its publication," added Caliwara.

Among the common questions given during the public consultation were access of the users to pornographic sites, the guarantee to continuously supply a 2 Mbps per user, the frequency of review and assessment of the comprehensive plan, inter-operability standards, availability of the service, the extent of data access using public internet among others.
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