Third telco still 'on track' to meet commitments despite lockdowns — DICT

Ian Nicolas Cigaral - Philstar.com
Third telco still 'on track' to meet commitments despite lockdowns â DICT
This file photo shows a cell tower.

MANILA, Philippines — Dennis Uy-led Dito Telecommunity, the country’s third telco player, is still “on track” to meet its promises this year despite disruptions triggered by the coronavirus outbreak and the six-week Luzon lockdown meant to stem the contagion, the government said Thursday.

In an interview with DZMM radio, Information and Communications Technology Undersecretary Eliseo Rio said Dito has not asked telco regulators for a leeway despite the health crisis as their July “technical launch” nears.

Come July, the government will check the company’s capacity to deliver on its promise to cover 37% of the population with 27 mbps minimum average internet speed on its first year.

“This means they are on track even with this emergency situation that we’re having now,” Rio said.

Last February, Dito, which is 40% powered by state-controlled telco giant China Telecom, said the global coronavirus pandemic that emerged in Wuhan, China last year was stalling its commercial rollout after their Chinese partner took a beating from the crisis.

Any delays on Dito’s rollout will surely benefit the existing duopoly, Globe Telecom and PLDT Inc., which President Rodrigo Duterte himself vowed to dismantle, an analyst said.

To stay on schedule, Dito started looking for “alternative sources” of technology and raw materials needed to start their operations after its deliveries from China got stuck.

“This is an opportunity for Dito to show what it can do differently. Filipino consumers have long waited for an alternative. In some areas, it’s good to see smaller players like Sky and Converge, and the cable TV operators in the last mile, but their coverage is still limited,” Grace Mirandilla-Santos, lead convener of the Better Broadband Alliance, told Philstar.com.

“Dito can help fill that gap,” Santos added.

DICT’s Rio said Dito, like other telco providers in the country, was granted an exemption from the Luzon lockdown, allowing the company to continue building the necessary infrastructure for their commercial debut in March 2021.

Rio added that shipments of technology from China should arrive in the Philippines “a week” after the lockdown is lifted. The enhanced community quarantine in Luzon will expire on April 30.

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