Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company (Mislatel) – the Philippines’ New Major Player (NMP) or ‘third telco’ – was formally issued with its Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) this week, paving the way for it to challenge the might of de facto duopoly PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom. In awarding the newcomer its operating licence, President Rodrigo Duterte challenged Mislatel to break the stranglehold, saying: ‘Let me take this opportunity to pose this challenge to Mislatel: break the prevailing duopoly in the telecommunications industry and fulfil your commitment to provide better telco services to our people’.
With the CPCN firmly in hand, Mislatel – a consortium of Davao businessman Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corp, Chelsea Logistics & Infrastructure Holdings Corp and Chinese state-owned China Telecommunications Corp – announced its intention to rename the NMP as DITO Telecommunity Corp. Its rollout plan will see it commence mobile network rollout this month, with Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio suggesting that DITO is expected to get its first subscribers from populated areas like Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao as early as November this year. ‘Of course, they would start with pilot testing first. Then they readjust if there are still problems with the network. They will only go to a commercial operation if they don’t encounter problems any longer. In their timeline, that is 2020,’ he was cited as saying.