June 13, 2017

Free High-Speed Wi-Fi along EDSA now available

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  • Stuck in traffic? The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) have recently launched a way for you to pass the time (as a passenger): free Wi-Fi along EDSA.

    The DICT recently launched the EDSA Wi-Fi project for all commuters moving along the metro’s main thoroughfare. The project was launched yesterday, June 12, as the country celebrated its 119th Independence Day.

    In a statement, DICT Secretary Rodolfo A. Salalima said that this public Wi-Fi offering is a “gift to the people of this free nation.” “We work to give Filipinos access to the information and technology that they need in their daily lives. EDSA Wi-Fi will benefit the hundreds of thousands of commuters along EDSA daily,” Salalima added.

    DICT has tapped the services of the country’s largest internet service providers, Globe Telecom and PLDT (via Smart), to provide free Wi-Fi to all 13 stations of MRT-3 and the entire stretch of EDSA by August, though it is now available for use by the public.

    Experience

    We tried out the free Wi-Fi service for ourselves and here’s what we’ve found out:

    OPTIONS. Here are your options if you want to use the EDSA Wi-Fi network.

    There are four Wi-Fi networks to choose from. There’s DICT FREE EDSA WIFI, #SmartWifi @MRT EDSA, @GoWifi_Auto and @GoWiFi_EDSA (both from Globe), and Free Public Wi-Fi – Juan Konek!.

    YES, IT IS THAT FAST. You can normally get these speeds if you’re on an expensive postpaid plan in a covered area.

    Among these four, the DICT FREE EDSA WIFI proved to be the fastest, topping out at 8.12 Mbps. DICT Sec. Salalima asked Globe and Smart to provide at least 10 Mbps, but we’ll forgive them for now (it’s only been one day).

    AS SLOW AS IT GETS. This was the slowest speed we recorded at MRT-3 Shaw Blvd. Station, using Smart’s public Wi-Fi network, and it’s still faster that what we got via their consumer LTE.

    Average speeds were clocked between 3 and 4 Mbps, good enough to watch short YouTube videos (1 – 4 minutes) at 720p without any buffering. These were using the Wi-Fi networks provided by Smart and Globe.

    It is only available at MRT Stations (for now). The Wi-Fi did not seem to extend far beyond the MRT stations, though that could be because it has not been fully rolled out yet. DICT FREE EDSA WIFI was reportedly only available between Cubao and Guadalupe station.

    No downloading. It may be fast, but DICT has blocked off anyone from downloading large files through its free Wi-Fi networks, including those via Torrent. Streaming via YouTube is okay, though you shouldn’t expect high-quality videos (at least 720p) to load without some buffering.

    SIGN-IN REQUIRED. Globe asks for a mobile number (you can use it regardless of network) so they can send a verification code.

    DATA LIMITS. The Free Public Wi-Fi – Juan Konek! network places a 50 Mb cap on anyone who wants to use their network. Plans are available for 100 Mb and 300 Mb, though we are still confirming with DICT on how to avail of those plans.

    Sign-in required. According to the DICT, all of these networks will require sign-in, and will usually be limited to at most an hour a day. Based on our experience, only DICT FREE EDSA WIFI and Free Public Wi-Fi – Juan Konek! required its users to sign in.

    Verdict:

    As far as we are concerned, it’s a fast, reliable Wi-Fi that’s better than what consumers could normally get from the same providers.

    It’s only been around for a day, but if we were asked to recommend using it, we can’t say we would for the following reasons:

    • It’s only available if you’re right on top of (for Buendia and Ayala Station) or directly underneath the MRT stations as of today, June 13.
    • Actually connecting to the network may take up most of your time. Even if you’re within the station, there are times when you can’t use the network. We ran into this problem at Shaw Blvd. station (we were “connected”, but web pages we visited did not load, including our website, primer.com.ph.)
    • It “might” solicit distracted driving or congestion. We’re not saying it is already happening, but it could. Filipinos are known penny pinchers, especially when it comes to mobile data. Most people who drive private vehicles along EDSA are alone (or their passenger is asleep or is not really pay attention). Add these two and there might be cases where EDSA gets congested just because people are trying to hook up to the networks for the first time.
    • Speeds may drop within the next few weeks. We got these speeds one day after it was launched. We’re not sure how fast your connection might be once every commuter along EDSA starts using the said networks.

    Of course, it has only been one day since it was launched. DICT have said they expect to have the entire stretch of EDSA be covered by August, so expect us to revisit any of the MRT stations by then to check if it is working.

    We’d like to hear about your experience using this. Leave us a comment about your experience in using the DICT’s EDSA Wi-Fi.

    If you’d like to know more (including the “data plans”), you can get in touch with the DICT via their Facebook page (Department of Information and Communications Technology – DICT), or through the Free Wi-Fi Project website, freepublicwifi.gov.ph.


    Note: All tests were done with a Samsung Galaxy J3 (6) on June 13, between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

    Written by Andronico Del Rosario
    Additional information: DICTGMA News, ABS-CBN News, The Philippine Star, Inquirer.net

               
               
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