US, Philippine security concerns to hound 3rd telco
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - September 26, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The ambitious digital infrastructure initiative of the country’s third telco Dito Telecommunity Inc. may take longer than expected due to issues of “national security,” both domestically and from the US, lawmakers warned yesterday.

“I think it’s a rough start for them considering that they have not established reliable communications platform, relay stations and facilities,” Rep. Manny Cabochan of party-list Magdalo said, noting that Dito has yet to lay its undersea cable from the US.

“As I see it, the undersea cable poses security concerns for the US, very much like Dito co-locating its facilities near AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) installations and camps,” the former Navy official said.

“Hence, delivery of service is questionable, plus the threat it poses to our privacy and national security is a concern,” said Cabochan, an independent opposition lawmaker in the House of Representatives.

Citing “national security” risks, Washington - through its US Department of Justice - vowed to block the installation of the planned 12,800-kilometer cross-Pacific undersea cable as part of Dito’s start-up requirement for enhancing its internet speed.

The cable will run from Los Angeles in the US to Hong Kong.

The Philippines is projected to be one of the undersea data cable’s landing stations. The undersea cable lines are very important primarily because they transmit massive amounts of data steadily from various parts of the world.

The third telco is reportedly relying heavily on the proposed Facebook and Google-backed subsea cable project from Pacific Light Cable Network. Dito will jumpstart its foray into the local telco industry and beat the duopoly of Smart Communications and Globe Telecom.

Another opposition lawmaker, Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. of party-list Ako Bicol, expressed almost the same concern, given that Dito promised a 27 Mbps (megabits per second) internet speed in 2020 and increase its bandwidth to 55 Mbps in its second year.

Dito also vowed to cover the whole archipelago with 5G bandwidth in just five years’ time.

“All I can say is that they have deliverables which are time-bound as provided in their congressional franchise. If they cannot deliver the promised services on time, it might affect their franchise if questioned in Congress,” Gabin said.

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