DENNIS A. UY’S Dito Telecommunity Corp. has installed about 1,900 cell towers to date, in line with its promise for its first year an official said on Monday.
“As of today, we’ve actually installed almost 1,900 towers,” said Chief Administrative Officer Adel A. Tamano at the hearing.
He acknowledged that the third telco player has installed more than enough cell sites to meet its pledge to reach 37% of the population with a minimum of 27 megabits per second (Mbps).
He added that Dito was able to construct more than 1,300 by September, touching over 1,500 towers in October. It also supported 11 kilometers of wire.
“These infrastructure accomplishments are more than adequate to reach 37% of the population and deliver a minimum speed of 27 Mbps,” he added.
Mr. Tamano talked before the Senate Public Works Committee to discuss his franchise proposal under House Bill No. 7332. The Committee, though, postponed the discussions on the franchise before its introduction in March.
“The basis for awarding the franchise, since we would then be excluded from our obligation, is that they will be willing to make at least the original promise they have made,” said Senator Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares at the hearing. “If they can achieve so we’ll be able to decide if we’re willing to grant them another 25 years.”
The bill will extend the franchise given to Dito Telecom, previously known as Mindanao Islamic Telecommunications Network, Inc. for another 25 years (Mislatel). The franchise is formally set to end in 2023.
For its second year, Dito Telecom plans to cover about 50 per cent, which would grow to 70 per cent in the third and 84 per cent in the last year. Mr. Tamano said the company’s target is to achieve about 90%, above its contribution to the government.
“We’re really trying to meet those targets in advance, we’re expecting that for example, our third year we’re hoping to achieve around 84-85 per cent coverage, but we’re aiming for more than 90 per cent coverage for our final year,” he added.
The business will be subject to a technical audit on 7 January next year, initially planned for 8 July last. It was postponed owing to the coronavirus pandemic that held the world in a tight lockdown.
Ms. Poe-Llamanzares, who chairs the group, questioned Dito Telecom if it would be willing to reach out to underserved and unserved regions, which is part of its commitment, but Mr. Tamano said that the organization began to achieve its goal in highly urbanized areas.
“We have to do this in a very rational and very productive manner, which is, sadly, beginning with the NCR (National Capital Region) regions, with Cebu and Davao,” he said.
The panel also agreed to hold an executive session to address cyber protection concerns relating to Dito Telecom, after Senator Francis N. Pangilinan said that China Telecommunications Corp. had been blacklisted by the United States.
Mr. Pangilinan pointed to the list provided by the US Department of Defense that listed Chinese firms that American companies are not authorized to invest in.