MANILA – The Department of Information and Communications Technology’s (DICT) Free Wi-Fi for All Program (FW4A) has rolled out a total of 4,305 live sites in 2020 alone, a 500-percent increase compared to the annual average for the past four years of the program.

In a statement on Tuesday, the DICT said the FW4A has deployed a total of 3,251 from 2016 to 2019, with the total now at 7,556 after the surge in new sites in 2020.

DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II said the FW4A is instrumental in fulfilling President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s order of “connecting every Filipino to each other, the government, and the world.”

“So, from day one we immediately went into analyzing factors that may speed-up the implementation and applied the needed reforms,” Honasan said.

To address issues in the program, the DICT said the FW4A was continually reevaluated and redesigned, resulting in the procurement of crucial network components and easing the difficulty of suppliers delivering their contractual obligations.

“As a result, the DICT managed to utilize around 93.89 percent of its FW4A budget for 2019. The overall utilization rate of the Department’s total 2019 budget is now approximately 80 percent as of December 31, 2020,” the DICT said.

It noted that the availability of the 2019 national budget was extended until the end of 2020 due to the delays of the 2019 General Appropriation Act.

Aside from developments in the FW4A, the DICT said it has regularized the majority of its workforce in 2020 and continued the rehabilitation of its facilities and equipment to enhance its overall capacity to implement other programs and projects.

The FW4A is one of the flagship programs of the DICT that aims to provide free internet access in public places nationwide, particularly in regional areas, through the installation of Wi-Fi sites. (PNA)