DENNIS A. UY’S Dito Telecommunity Corp. has constructed about 1,900 cell towers to date, in line with its commitment for its first year, an official said on Monday.
“As of today, we have close to 1,900 towers already constructed,” Dito Chief Administrative Officer Adel A. Tamano said in a hearing.
He noted the third telco player has built more than enough cell sites to achieve its commitment to cover 37% of the population with a minimum of 27 Megabits per second (Mbps).
He added Dito was able to build more than 1,300 by September and reached over 1,500 towers in October. It has also laid out 11 kilometers of cable.
“These infrastructure achievements are more than enough to cover the 37% of the population and deliver speed of a minimum 27 Mbps,” he said.
Mr. Tamano was speaking before the Senate Public Services Committee, which is tackling its franchise application under House Bill No. 7332. The committee however suspended deliberations on the franchise pending its March rollout.
“The basis of granting the franchise, because we’ll be remiss also of our responsibility, is that they’re able to provide at least the initial commitment they gave,” Senator Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares said in the hearing. “If they’re able to do that, then we will be able to determine if we will give them the additional 25 years.”
The bill will renew for another 25 years the franchise granted to Dito Telecom, formerly known as the Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company, Inc. (Mislatel). The franchise will officially expire in 2023.
For its second year, Dito Telecom targets to reach around 50% coverage, which will go up to 70% in the third and 84% in the last year. Mr. Tamano said the company is aiming to get to around 90%, beyond its commitment to the government.
“We actually aim to hit those milestones in advance, we are hoping that for example, our final year, we’re hoping to hit about 84-85% coverage, but we are aiming for more than 90% coverage for our final year,” he said.
The company will undergo a technical audit on Jan. 7 next year, which was originally set last July 8. It was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic that placed the country under a strict lockdown.
Ms. Poe-Llamanzares, who chairs the committee, asked Dito Telecom whether it will be able to reach underserved and unserved areas, which is a part of its commitment, but Mr. Tamano said the company started in highly urbanized areas to achieve its target.
“We have to do it in a very logical and very efficient way, which is unfortunately we start with NCR (National Capital Region) areas, with Cebu, with Davao,” he said.
The panel also decided to conduct an executive session to discuss cybersecurity issues concerning Dito Telecom after Senator Francis N. Pangilinan raised that China Telecommunications Corp. has been blacklisted by the United States.
Mr. Pangilinan was referring to the list issued by the US Department of Defense that identified Chinese companies that American companies are not allowed to invest in. — Charmaine A. Tadalan