North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco. (File photo courtesy of North Cotabato PIO)

COTABATO CITY – North Cotabato province’s 17 towns and one city will soon have free wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) services, courtesy of the government, Governor Nancy Catamco said Friday.

“It will soon come and we will be more connected to each other digitally. This is the dream of our people in North Cotabato,” Catamco said in a radio interview in Kidapawan City.

James Labiano of the North Cotabato Provincial Planning and Development Council said the governor’s issuance of an order directing all local government units across the province to support the “free Wi-Fi for all” project would help boost the venture’s completion.

The free Wi-Fi project is a joint undertaking of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the provincial government of North Cotabato.

Under the project, a total of 116 cell sites or Wi-Fi hotspots will rise in North Cotabato, the biggest number in Region 12 (Soccsksargen).

“This is very crucial for our younger generation who are still in school and studying under the remote learning system or online learning,” Catamco said.

More than 50 percent of North Cotabato’s 500,000 public school students have no access to the Internet, education officials said.

Amalia Somuza, 38, of M’lang, North Cotabato said she is excited to avail of the free Wi-Fi in the province as it would make her children at par with other students in urban areas.

“Everybody nowadays is into online operation, including government offices. How can we avail of online transactions if we are not connected to the Internet?” Somuza said.

She said her husband, a private firm worker, had to beg for Internet connection from neighbors so he could file his loan with the Social Security System.
(PNA)