The Philippine government is planning to terminate its contract with a foreign contractor for the installation of internet service in remote areas across the country, Malacañang said, citing delays in the project implementation and poor wifi service.
“We are unhappy with a foreign contractor over the slow rollout of free wifi in select public areas, nearly four years after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the project,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
Duterte in 2017 approved a law that would provide free internet access in public places.
However, the free wifi project is running at only about 10,000 of some 120,000 target sites, said Roque.
Speedcast International Limited has signed an agreement with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in support of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to bring internet connectivity and public wifi services to 3,000 remote areas across eleven regions in the country.
With a 23-month commitment, the initial contract term has a value of $14.4 million, renewable for an additional two more years of service.
However, Roque said the promise of free wifi for all has not yet been fulfilled.
Under the agreement, Speedcast will install and manage connectivity to all sites, and will provide 24/7 technical support and field services. More than 60 percent of the sites will be powered by solar energy, with all sites supported by battery backup to maintain service when standard power sources are not available.
However, Roque said the DICT installed wifi services in five times more sites than the contractor did up until 2019.
“So, the position of the President and DICT is that the involvement of the current foreign contractor should stop and the money given to them should be returned because the DICT can take over the project,” he said.