Adel Tamano, Chief Administrative Officer at DITO Telecommunity, says the Philippines’ new third telco is unlikely to meet its 8 July 2020 deadline for a ‘technical launch’ of its network. Speaking at a hearing led by Senator Grace Poe this week, Tamano confirmed that a week ahead of the deadline DITO has deployed only around 25% of the required number of cell sites needed to fulfil its first-year commitment to the government. To date, the newcomer has only constructed 300 operational cell sites out of the 1,300 required to comply with the terms of its licence award to provide coverage of 37% of the population with minimum speeds of 27Mbps in year one. Local press reports point out meanwhile, that the new target is lower than the 1,600 target DITO committed to last February, with Tamaro reportedly now blaming delays on COVID-19 which has led to movement restrictions under local lockdown measures. ‘COVID-19 and lockdowns prevented us from our full rollout. With the subsequent easing of different lockdown situations, we are doing our best to get back on track,’ the official is quoted as saying, adding that the new third telco still expects to complete 2,000 cell sites by the end of 2020.
The Inquirer notes that DITO’s technical launch – as indicated by its licence – marks the beginning of government-led auditing of its network to test it is in compliance with its commitments. This differs from its commercial launch and the provision of services to paying customers, which is currently set to take place in March 2021.