Now in Metro Manila, Dito eyes 2 million subscribers by yearend
“Our government commitments in terms of coverage for the first year it’s 37 percent, second year it’s around 50 percent, third year around 70 percent, and the last year is 84 percent,” Dito Telecommunity chief administrative officer Adel Tamano said yesterday.

Now in Metro Manila, Dito eyes 2 million subscribers by yearend

Ian Nicolas Cigaral (Philstar.com) - May 17, 2021 - 3:01pm

MANILA, Philippines — Uy-led telco startup Dito Telecommunity Corp. is aiming to grow its subscriber base to 2 million by yearend, a feasible target that banks on the company’s ability to rollout faster and better in an archipelago wanting of better internet services.

Already, Dito has signed up “a couple of million” mobile subscribers in over 2 months of operations, said Adel Tamano, chief administrative officer, said in a briefing. Dito’s customers are located in 100 cities and towns where service had been rolled out, including Metro Manila where the telco launched on Monday.

As it stands, the 2 million goal appears a bid to be conservative coming from a much-anticipated pilot of commercial services last March 8. By the rules of its franchise, Dito is mandated to become accessible to 51% of the 108 million Filipino population by end-July, which company officials said are likely to be met. 

“That is our goal,” Tamano told reporters. “I think we really need to fast-track our roll-out.”

But expanding its reach and getting people to sign up for Dito are different, and to date, the company is still trying to counter prevailing public reluctance over its service because of its significant China ties. Dito is 40% backed by China Telecom, Beijing’s state-run telco firm, but the firm has repeatedly insisted on its Philippine roots. 

Reaching the 2-million threshold by yearend would also do little to bring Dito closer to its 5-year plan of capturing 30 percent of the telco market, equivalent to about 40-50 million unique mobile subscribers. That would in fact necessitate stealing some share from veteran competitors, Globe Telecom Inc. and PLDT Inc., which have around 77 million and 72 million mobile subscribers as of 2020, respectively.

One problem getting in the way of Dito’s ambitions is phone compatibility. Given its high technology that uses 4G as its base network, and ultimate goal of bringing 5G to its subscribers, legacy phones typically used in provinces where it chose to initially launch are blocking progress.

“(It) remains challenging,” Rodolfo Santiago, chief technology officer, said. “We have established a new technology and it seems there are some brands that are really not compatible to our services.”

Where there is active Dito signal as well, the network tends to be weak, Santiago said, admitting the need for some “connectivity adjustments.” Fixing these issues is crucial for Dito to continue providing at least 27 Mbps speed Internet speed as pledged under its franchise, a target which also increases every year. 

Another potential roadblock for Dito that even incumbents are worried about is falling demand for wireless services after the pandemic kept virtually everyone at home, reliant in their residential connections. This is less of a problem for Ayala-led Globe and Manuel V. Pangilinan’s PLDT which also offer home broadband services, but Dito piloted in mobile, with no concrete plans on expanding to other services just yet.

But Tamano is unfazed, saying that Dito actually “expects the opposite” to happen. “Because of the current situation, Dito’s product is more relevant because it’s fast,” he said.

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