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Dito to fast-track network rollout

/ 05:14 AM October 30, 2020

Telecommunications startup Dito Telecommunity wants to compress its five-year network rollout to fewer years despite encountering early delays.

Dito, which is backed by Davao-based businessman Dennis A. Uy’s Udenna Group and state-owned China Telecom, said this could be done by accelera­ting spending and deploying infrastructure faster.

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Company officials said at a media briefing on Thursday this was already happening with the support of local government units and more recent calls by President Duterte to cut red tape.

“Our internal aspiration is really to shorten the five years to three years,” Dito chief technology officer Rodolfo Santiago said.

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Dito missed its first deadline for a technical audit—which was meant to measure its network capabilities—on its first anniversary last July 8. The company cited delays in its rollout caused by the strict COVID-19 lockdown.

It won a reprieve from the National Telecommunications Commission to move the audit by six months to January 2021.

This also means Dito will have two technical audits in 2021: one in January and the next by July, marking its second year.

Company chief administrative officer Adel Tamano said Dito was also maintaining the March 2021 target for a commercial launch, which meant it would begin accepting paying subscribers to use its service.

Santiago said the company expected to comply with its January 2021 audit as he announced the completion of 1,532 cell sites as of Oct. 28 or a 400-percent increase from the 300 sites completed before its original first audit on July 8.

This will be more than enough to meet the requirement to cover 37 percent of the population and provide a minimum average internet speed of 27 megabits per second.

Santiago said they planned to bring the figure to over 2,200 cell sites by July 2021 to meet the second year milestone of 51-percent population coverage and a minimum average internet speed of 55 Mbps.

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He added that Dito was simultaneously launching a standalone 5G network, which allows ultra fast internet and minimum lag times, alongside its initial 4G rollout to meet higher internet speed requirements.

Dito earlier committed to cover 84 percent of the Philippine population and offer a minimum average internet speed of 55 Mbps by the end of its fifth year or by 2024.

The company, which holds a congressional franchise via Mindanao Islamic Telephone Co., was selected as the country’s newest telecommunications player in 2018 as the Duterte administration sought a challenger to incumbents PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom.

It was later assigned valuable radio frequencies and asked to put up a P25.7-billion bond, which will be forfeited and its spectrum recalled should it repeatedly fail to meet its commitments.

Tamano on Thursday said Dito was also expanding its workforce.

The company has over 600 employees today, double the figure last September, and it targets to have over 1,000 workers by the time it makes its commercial debut next year.

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TAGS: Dennis A. Uy, Dito Telecommunity
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