Munisipyo Wi-Fi

I spent a day in Argao recently and was pleasantly surprised to find several dependable and free Wi-Fi hotspots. I was surprised because in Cebu City, free Wi-Fi access isn’t as widespread as they say it is in places such as Davao City.

Many shops, at least the last time I went warbiking or going around on a motorcycle to check for free Wi-Fi hotspots, just depend on the services of Globe and Airborne Access for their customers’ wireless Internet access.

MUNISIPYO WI-FI. A man browses the Internet at the Argao town plaza. The Municipal Government turned the Spanish-era pueblo into a free wireless Internet zone last year. Click on photo to enlarge.
MUNISIPYO WI-FI. A man browses the Internet at the Argao town plaza. The Municipal Government turned the Spanish-era pueblo into a free wireless Internet zone last year. 

But not Argao.

The municipal government has turned it’s beautiful plaza into a free Wi-Fi zone. There you are—surrounded by Spanish-era buildings, three cannons once used to fight pirates, beautiful masonry, and music that comes from cleverly-hidden speakers—and you have free high-speed wireless Internet access.

It was good they were playing Spanish guitars the night I was there (the previous night it was Bisrock), had they been playing Gregorian chants, I would have had an uncontrollable urge to dance like Mel Brook’s Torquemada and video-stream the Inquisition.

I was told that the Wi-Fi zone was set up last year by Argao town officials. Now it isn’t, technically, municipal Wi-Fi—the term means the entire city or town or a major part of it is covered by wireless Internet signal—but it’s a start. It’s munisipyo Wi-Fi.

When I was at the plaza on a Saturday night, I saw one person park his multi-cab near the Argao town hall, take out his laptop and then access the Internet. I opened my Asus Eee PC, which is such a marvelous piece of gadget, and checked my e-mail. The connection was relatively fast.

I wasn’t able to do speed tests, though, because I was supposed to be on a quick vacation—to get away for “it” all and my family was already on their way to the museum.

BEAUTIFUL PLAZA, HOT ZONE. Argao deployed free Wi-Fi in its Spanish-era pueblo or town center last year. Click on photo to enlarge.
BEAUTIFUL PLAZA, HOT ZONE. Argao deployed free Wi-Fi in its Spanish-era pueblo or town center last year. Click on photo to enlarge.

I asked Ruel Rigor, who showed us around, on the extent of the Wi-Fi spot’s usage and he said only a few locals use it.

The availability of free Wi-Fi in the town plaza is such a huge help for tourists and locals who need to access the Internet.

It also opens the possibility of using the signal in the plaza to make VOIP calls for free. If you have a Symbian-based phone, you can use Fring with Wi-Fi not only to chat with your friends but also call them via Skype or the application itself, if they’re also using it. The call is free because you’re connecting through Wi-Fi connection.

I was able to chat with some contacts using Fring but none of my Skype contacts were online when I was in the town center so I couldn’t test calling with Fring.

Wi-Fi access isn’t just limited to the area near the Argao town hall. I was able to detect another Wi-Fi access point, albeit secured, a few meters away. The resort I stayed in near the Mahayahay beach resort also offered uninterrupted free Wi-Fi access. The signal covers part of the public beach resort so you can probably get away with piggybacking near the beach, even at night.

I hope other local officials, especially in tourism areas, follow Argao’s Wi-Fi deployment. Heck I hope more Cebu shops follow Looc Garden Resort, where we stayed, and start offering free W-Fi to costumers.

The last time I was in a coffee shop in Ayala several months back, I was told to buy a card when I asked about Wi-Fi access. But things are starting to change. I’ve been told many coffee shops are starting to offer free Wi-Fi to costumers.

Asking the city where I live in, Lapu-Lapu, to follow the example of a 3rd class municipality like Argao might be a pipe dream or a financial nightmare. Lapu Lapu City Hall, after all, was accused of purchasing computers for nearly P50,000 when the specifications indicated these cost less than half the contract amount.

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19 responses

  1. Wow, I wish my town would also offer free Wi-Fi in the town plaza.

    First though, I have to get my own laptop!

  2. this is good news! i can now enjoy that free wi-fi when I go to Argao.

    some free wifi zones in cebu: sykes in panagdait (all stores within the building). in paseo, jolibee panagdait, creams and bakes in AS fortuna (joven’s grill)

  3. Ceblogger,
    Thanks for the tip. I’ll check on them. I’m actually maintaining a map on Wi-Fi hotspots in Cebu. I’ll be updating this as I’m set to go warbiking :-).

  4. Jhay,
    Wouldn’t it be great if our local governments start implementing free Wi-Fi? Have you decided on whether to get that Eee PC? πŸ™‚

  5. cool!
    this is really a techie generation…
    next thing we’ll know, there will be a Wi-Fi zone in Kawasan Falls! haha!

  6. I’ve never been to Kawasan πŸ™ but one of these days I’ll visit it.

  7. Hi! I’m a physician and a computer geek. I am presently working in the airport and I’ve known for many months that there are a few wi-fi hotspots which exist in the departure area: Wiz, Airborne Access and Smart wi-fi. For the past months, I can access Smart for free, but nowadays, they have started doing what Globe is now using, prepaid subscription. I once wanted to subscribe to Dominion but it’s still a bit expensive for me…

  8. imagine that, argao with free wi-fi. I even wonder why it’s so hard to get a free wi-fi in Cebu City when we would even want to be the IT hub of Asia. I’ve been to a most of the major cities in the Visayas and its even easier to get free wi-fi access as compared to Cebu City. Our techie Cebu tourism guys probably need to assess our connectivity situation

  9. i went there a few weeks ago and i tried connecting to the net using my psp. it worked! yehee!!

  10. hey there! Nice blog! Can i ask u if cebu has an active association for bloggers? How could one join? thanks.. I have posted a thread at about this but none hve answerd to me.. Thanks

  11. Cyril,
    In my most recent warbiking, I’ve spotted more Wi-Fi zones. I think Wi-Fi coverage is improving. You’re right about how officials need to look into the connectivity.

    It really is a great service by the town. And I heard that it will soon be a model for other towns in the province.

    None that I know of. But we recently had a short blog meet-up with a small group of Cebu bloggers. There might be another meet-up later this year. πŸ™‚

  12. Ok. Maybe by your next meet-up, you could discuss this with your fellow bloggers. I am much willing to participate with it. thanks for the reply

  13. max, i tried the free wifi in Argao last Saturday. it works.

  14. i’m from davao..

    yes, it is indeed very true that most of the establishments here have free wi-fi access..

    wi-fi hotspots here are like mushrooms; they’re everywhere..

  15. It’s developments like these that create more incentive for Filipinos to become gadget geeks! Maybe that’s why companies should sponsor more Munisipyo Wi-Fi?

  16. STEVEANZ Avatar

    Sos ka nice na jud ang argao karon…I hope someday argao become a city… good job!

  17. Argao will always be the best. I hope whole Argao will become a hotspot someday.

  18. the mnunicipality of balamban also offers free wi-fi..even at our house we are connecting to the free wi-fi of the municipality..hahaha…we really enjoi free internet here.. πŸ˜€

  19. R. Molina Avatar
    R. Molina

    I always think of “TORTA” & the “SAN MIGUEL ARCHANGEL” icon displayed outside the old Spanish Church whenever the name ARGAO comes into mind. Love to hear that there’s a free WiFi Zone in the vicinity where I used to play around along with my childhood friends back in the old days.”di gyud paulahi ang mga Argawanon ha?”

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