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0991, 0992: Dito's first service to launch in Visayas, Mindanao on March 8
By June, Dito’s services are expected to be available nationwide. “It’s going to be a launch in waves,” Adel Tamano, chief administrative officer, told reporters in an online briefing.
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0991, 0992: Dito's first service to launch in Visayas, Mindanao on March 8

Prinz Magtulis (Philstar.com) - February 23, 2021 - 2:37pm

MANILA, Philippines — Add 0991 and 0992 to the prefixes you would have to remember as the Philippines’ third telco player is all set to launch offerings starting next month.

Dito Telecommunity of Davao-based tycoon Dennis Uy will start offering commercial services to the public on March 8, initially in 17 cities and municipalities in the Visayas and Mindanao led by Cebu and Davao, company officials said on Tuesday.

By June, Dito’s services are expected to be available nationwide. “It’s going to be a launch in waves,” Adel Tamano, chief administrative officer, told reporters in an online briefing.

Fresh from passing its first performance assessment, results of which were announced on Monday, Dito’s impending entry to the telco space culminates President Rodrigo Duterte’s push for better service from the country’s current duopoly, Ayala-led Globe Telecom Inc. and Pangilinan-led PLDT Inc.

Whether or not the new telco firm will deliver however remains to be seen. Dito breezed through a technical audit required by regulators to check on whether it is meeting its pledges. But the result especially of speed that peaks at 507.5 Mbps for 5G admittedly may be far from reality once subscribers come in and crowd the service.

“Our commitment is to have 27 Mbps. Of course, we want it to be faster… but it is expected the result of the audit will not be the same level when we already have some subscribers,” Rodolfo Santiago, chief technology officer, said in the same briefing. 

That said, it’s all systems go for the March 8 launch. About 20 Dito physical stores are being constructed in the Visayas and Mindanao, 10 which are seen completed in time for the commercial rollout. These establishments will sell SIM cards, phone and broadband lines, among others by that day.

SIM cards will have corresponding numbers using prefixes unique to Dito. Santiago said the company has reserved the use of 0991, 0992, 0993, 0994, 0898, 0897, 0895 and 0896, but will not use them all instantly. It remains unclear which of the prefixes will be used first. 

Dito’s service area will be limited in the Visayas and Mindanao days or weeks after its launch, which means those in Luzon cannot avail of Dito products and services even online. Santiago and Tamano said the goal is to reach far-flung areas, a business strategy put into question given that in these poorer areas, mobile phones may not be 5G or 4G ready which is Dito’s default offering.

Tamano would like to call the launch in Visayas and Mindanao as a “CSR” or corporate social responsibility, even as Santiago said the company would like to see some profits this year. However, swinging to green is something unlikely in 2021 given the company's huge investments to enter the telco space.

“We do have our targets for the number of subscribers that we have for the first year,” Tamano said, without citing data which he said is confidential.

Already, Dito has signed interconnection deals with Globe and PLDT so that subscribers from the three networks can contact each other. Telco towers, including those in military camps that came under scrutiny over national security fears, are also being put up to enhance service. In Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City alone, Santiago said the telco is awaiting approvals for five towers to be constructed inside camp. 

Dito is 38.9% owned by state-run China Telecommunications Corp.

The nationwide rollout is targeted completed before the second regulatory check for Dito on July 8. By that time, the newbie telco would have covered 51% of the population who should enjoy a minimum broadband speed of 55 Mbps. “We are banking on our 5G technology to reach that,” Santiago said.

To be able to do that, Dito is spending P26 billion in capital investments this year, far smaller than Globe’s P70 billion and PLDT’s minimum of P88 billion. Although Tamano said this was because the company “frontloaded” investments during its first year at P150 billion.

“The commercial launch is not one day, right? But actually before June, we will already be available throughout the country,” Tamano said.

 

Editor's Note: A unit under PLDT's media conglomerate has a majority stake in Philstar Global Corp., which runs Philstar.com. This article was independently produced following editorial guidelines.

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