The Philippines is Planning on Offering Free Nationwide Wi-Fi By the End of 2016

Surfing the web is about to get a lot more affordable if you live in The Philippines.

That’s because the country is planning free Wi-Fi services to half of its towns and cities this year and nationwide coverage by end-2016.

At a time when Canadians have the highest cell phone bills, this seems a little unfair to us – but maybe we’re just jealous.

The free Internet service will cost the government about 1.5 billion pesos ($32 million USD) a year and will be available in areas such as public schools, hospitals, airports, and even parks, said Monchito Ibrahim, deputy executive director of the Information and Communications Technology Office.

The new service is expected to push data charges lower in the Philippines. Currently, access to the Internet costs about $18 a megabit per second in the country. That figure is more than three times the global average of $5, according to research firm International Data Corp. or IDC.

As for the country’s two main phone companies, they may have to offer higher-end services to retain and attract customers. This, of course, means more expenses to better their network for services offering higher speeds.

The thing is, the government’s free Wi-Fi service has its limitations. For one, it’s pretty slow. Speed is capped at 256 kilobits per second, which is enough for basic Internet searches or access to Facebook. Meaning, there’s no room for phone calls or video streaming.

Still, though, it’s a step in the right direction (and something Canada should take a cue from).