By the end of 2016, the Philippines will have free Wi-Fi services nationwide, Bloomberg reports. About half of its towns and cities will get service this year. The cost of this project, which will bring Wi-Fi to public schools, hospitals, airports and parks, rings in at about 1.5 billion pesos ($32 million USD) a year.
Monchito Ibrahim, deputy executive director of the Information and Communications Technology Office, told Bloomberg that implementing free Internet might squeeze telecom companies into changing their practices, and that the government is focused on “areas that absolutely don’t have access”.
This development could be a problem for Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and Globe Telecom Inc., the two companies who have a corner on Internet service in the country.
Currently, access to the Internet in the Philippines costs about $18 per Mbps which is extremely high compared with the global average of $5, according to the report. This could mean the country’s phone companies will enhance their network so they can offer higher speeds, because while there will be free Internet, it won’t be blazing fast.
The free Wi-Fi service speed will be capped at 256 kilobits per second -- fast enough for your basic Googling and Facebooking. But for now that could be good enough: In Asia, the broadband connectivity in the Philippines only outranks Afghanistan.