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Thursday, 30 November 2023

Free Wi-Fi across all towns of Siargao Island

By Renelle L. Escuadro

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Caraga recently fulfilled its commitment to connectivity as it completed the activation of the Free Wi-Fi for All Program in all nine towns on Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte.

The department kicked off the project in Siargao Island in the following strategic areas:  Santa Monica Municipal Hall, Santa Monica Legislative Building, Santa Monica Public Park and Recreation Center, Sapao Central Elementary School, San Isidro Municipal Hall, San Isidro Rural Health Unit, San Isidro Legislative Building, San Isidro Super Health Center, San Isidro Municipal Plaza, San Benito Municipal Hall, San Benito Tourism Assistance Center, San Benito Municipal Plaza, and San Benito Rural Health Unit.

Del Carmen Municipal Hall, Del Carmen Rural Health Unit, Del Carmen DRRM Building, Socorro Municipal Hall, Socorro Municipal Hall Extension Building, Socorro Legislative Building, Socorro Rural Health Unit, Socorro Municipal Plaza, Socorro Port Terminal, Dapa Municipal Hall, Dapa Old Tribunal Office, Dapa Legislative Building, Dapa Bus and Jeepney Terminal, Dapa Passengers Port Terminal, and Dapa Boulevard served as the additional beneficiary sites on the island under the Free Wi-Fi for All Program.

The DICT’s Free Wi-Fi for All Program is designed to provide Filipinos access to opportunities, education, and information, as well as the ability to participate in the growing digital economy through free internet in public places nationwide. 

Siargao Island

By political demarcation, Siargao Island has nine municipalities namely, Burgos, Dapa, Del Carmen, General Luna, Pilar, San Benito, San Isidro, Santa Monica, and Socorro

Siargao Island, which is known as the surfing capital of the country, gained various recognitions from foreign audiences. On October 3, the esteemed luxury and lifestyle travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards listed the island in the prestigious category of the Best Islands in Asia.

The digital nomads around the globe who travel freely while working remotely using technology and the internet created waves of positive impressions and experiences as they considered this a perfect haven for their community during the Barefoot IT Siargao: 1st Philippine Digital Nomad Summit on October 5.

The most recent was when 78 passengers from different nationalities on the MV Coral Adventurer graced the shores of Siargao Island on November 14. 

With Siargao Island leading the country in its invitation to tourism and economic activities on a global scale, there was a dire need to address the digital divide and bridge connectivity in the place. Hence, accelerating the completion of the Free Wi-Fi for All Program on the island paved the way for more favorable opportunities in countryside development and nation-building.  

Tobey, a digital nomad, shared his internet expenses in Siargao Island, stating, “The cost of a Globe pocket Wi-Fi at a local market in Siargao Island was $20 (P1,000), and I reloaded it with data connection at a price of $2 to $4  (P100 - P200) a week.”

Ian Laput, an avid visitor of the island, also said that “for tourists on the island, we get free Wi-Fi from the place we stay, as there are hotels and inns that offer free Wi-Fi, but there are only a handful as part of the accommodation package. If we go out, we prefer to stay in cafes or restaurants with free Wi-Fi, which are only a few; the rest you have to buy internet.”

“Most of the time, tourists use their mobile data. Some who stay on the island for a longer period bring with them their prepaid modem or reload their prepaid internet, in which they pay an extra amount on top of the internet package. Since it's on the island, the extra fee is higher compared to the mainland, as cost of living is expensive on the island,“ Laput further discussed. 

With Siargao Island offering free Wi-Fi in strategic public places in all towns, residents and tourists considered this as good news. More than just savings, it's the reliable and constant connectivity to the world that matters most, as they want to tell stories of their experience and adventure in the island paradise. (RLE/PIA-Caraga)