'Para makanood ng Netflix?' Ex-DICT official hits P466-M price tag for free wifi project

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 26 2021 08:44 AM | Updated as of May 26 2021 12:10 PM

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A former official of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) believes the government paid too much money for a 5-month contract to provide free wifi in different parts of the country. 

Speaking to ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, ex-DICT OIC Eliseo Rio questioned the P466 million awarded to four companies for the government's Free WiFi Internet Access in Public Places Project. 

He noted the award will only give free wifi to the public for 5 months. "What can be done in 5 months?" he asked. 

Rio also questioned the DICT's justification that the higher price was "because of the speed para makapagpanood ng Netflix."

"Kung Netflix, bakit kailangan bayaran ng gobyerno? Let them pay. Itong ating mga free wifi ito ay para ang citizens natin makapag-apply ng online government services, makapag-usap sa kanilang mga pamilya...and education," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo Wednesday.

(Our free wi-fi is for citizens to avail of online government services, talk to their family...and for education.)

"Di mo kailangan ng speed d'yan... Anong relasyon ng speed sa public wi-fi. 'Di pumupunta ang tao sa public wi-fi para manood ng Netflix o mag-games."

(You don't need speed. What's the relation of speed to public wi-fi? People don't avail of public wi-fi to watch Netflix or play games.)

DICT Undersecretary Manny Caintic meanwhile disputed Rio’s claims that their project was overpriced. Caintic explained that their project gave more value for money.

“The UNDP project, we noticed, had a maximum internet rate of 2 Mbps only and a committed internet rate of only 200 kilobits per second. In today’s time this is a very very slow internet speed,” he said.

Caintic maintained that their project now is ten times cheaper per Mbps.
 
“Hindi po totoo na overpriced. For the price of the internet we are providing now substantially mas maganda ang user experience ng mga tao,” he said.

Rio meanwhile said Caintic did not understand the satellite technology that was used in the UNDP project. 

“Usec. Caintic is not a telco man. He has no license in ECE [electronics and communications engineering]. He may not know VSAT [very small aperture terminal] is limited in speed you cannot put in so many megabits.”

Rio also questioned the award of P112,500,000 to Philcomsat for 250 sites, saying the company is a subcontractor in the DICT-UNDP Project and could have easily rolled-out these 250 sites at no cost to the government.

ABS-CBN TeleRadyo, May 26, 2021