SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — With the Philippines in No. 13 among countries with the highest number of Internet users and sixth in the most number of people on Facebook, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is working on a plan to have more public wi-fi areas here where visitors can stay “connected” for free.
According to SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia, the Subic agency is discussing with local Internet provider PLDT-Subictel the possibility of putting up free wi-fi connection for the whole Central Business District (CBD) in the Subic Bay Freeport, an area most frequented by tourists and visitors.
Garcia said that a meeting with PLDT-Subictel president Renato Castaneda has already yielded positive results: the provision of free wi-fi at Remy Field, a favorite spot for residents and practicing athletes because of its track oval and other sports facilities.
“Now I’m trying to convince them to turn the whole CBD into a free wi-fi area, just like what they are doing to airports, seaports, and other places where a lot of people go,” Garcia said.
The SBMA chairman added that he has also identified alternative spots in the Subic Freeport for possible free wi-fi connection. These are the Boardwalk Park, Malawaan Fishing Area, the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center, and the Harbor Point mall.
“Aside from Remy Field, those are the major points where visitors would benefit the most from a public wi-fi system,” Garcia added.
Meanwhile, Garcia also announced that the SBMA board of directors is now studying a proposal to operate the Internet-based Uber taxi franchise in the Subic Freeport.
The transport system, which is franchised by the American multinational online transportation network company Uber Technologies Inc., operates through a mobile application that allows customers with smartphones to book trips online.
“Uber is very much interested to put up its business here, maybe because we have a different regulatory framework here. So, we’re working out the details like the requirement for professional drivers and third party liability insurance,” Garcia said.
“We have spoken with the Uber general manager, and they are very interested because they want to make Subic an example of their operations,” he added.
Garcia said that he sees much benefit from Uber operation in Subic: “Number one is it will provide additional jobs; and number two, it will force local taxis in the Freeport to lower their fares, which are really excessive.”
Garcia said the high cost of transportation inside the Freeport works against efforts by the SBMA to promote local tourism. (30)
SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia (right) and PLDT-Bayantel president Renato Castañeda discuss the provision of free public wi-fi in the Subic Bay Freeport.