It’s “all systems go” for DITO Telecommunity

 

MANILA — DITO Telecommunity aced its first technical audit in speed and reach and is set to go full force on its launch on 08 March.

Results of the audit show the firm’s reach of 37.48% of the 100.98 million population—a little over the 37% requirement. Its minimum broadband speed offering is 85.9 Mbps for 4G network. For its 5G, it is a faster 507.5 Mbps, way above the 27 Mbps requirement on first evaluation.

News on DITO’s positive audit, launch this March and readiness for expansion with the two other telcos Globe and PLDT caused market players to take profits on the DITO CME Holdings Corp. stock with some loading positions in the last trading day last week.

On Feb. 22-24 and 26, a total of 535.77 million shares of DITO CME shares worth P8.90 billion were traded, making it the most traded stock that week, data from the Philippine Stock Exchange showed.

The Dennis A. Uy-led firm closed at P16.14 apiece, down by 10% from the Feb. 19 finish of P17.94 each. Since the first trading day of the year, the stock has grown by 24%.

These are favorable marks to the Uy-led firm as it clears its rollout of public services next week and starts head-to-head competition with prevailing telcos Ayala-led Globe Telecom Inc. and PLDT Inc. of Manuel V. Pangilinan. DITO, which is 38.9% owned by state-run China Telecommunications Inc., called the latest development a “wonderful news.”

“DITO’s entry in the market is a welcome development in the telco industry,” the National Telecommunications Commission says in a statement.

“A healthier competition within the industry fulfills President Duterte’s promise to the Filipino people of better telco service through cheaper prices and improved internet speed.” it adds.

 

Audit breakdown of results

DITO’s reach is 37,845,315, which is equivalent to 8,860 barangays nationwide. Broadband network speed is faster than base stations at 769.1 Mbps for 5G and 102.4 Mbps for 4G. The farthest connection from a base station registered speed at 64.4 Mbps for 4G and 316.5 Mbps for 5G.

Whether the telco delivers as expected or not remains to be seen. Its peak speeds at 507.5 Mbps for 5G will be put to the test once subscribers come in and crowd the service.

“Our commitment is to have 27 Mbps. Of course, we want it to be faster… but it is expected the result of the audit will not be the same level when we already have some subscribers,” says Rodolfo Santiago, chief technology officer.

The auditor used a stratified random sample for field testing, which is equivalent to 12 percent of the existing 1,602 DITO cellular sites. R.G. Manabat and Co., an independent auditor evaluated DITO’s performance.

 

Commercial rollout and service areas identified

There are about 20 DITO physical stores being constructed in the Visayas and Mindanao service areas. Of these, ten stores are already ready for the commercial rollout. These establishments will sell SIM cards, phone and broadband lines, etc.

SIM cards will have corresponding numbers using prefixes unique to DITO: 0991, 0992, 0993, 0994, 0898, 0897, 0896 and 0895. It is not clear which of the prefixes will be used first.

Its service areas will be limited in the Visayas and Mindanao at the moment, which means those in Luzon cannot avail of DITO products and services, even online just as yet.

It will serve business centers in 15 pilot areas, ten in Metro Cebu:

  • Metro Cebu
    • 1. Carcar
    • 2. Cebu City
    • 3. Consolacion
    • 4. Danao
    • 5. Liloan,
    • 6. Mandaue
    • 7. Minglanilla
    • 8. Naga
    • 9. San Fernando
    • 10. Talisay

and five in Metro Davao:

  • Metro Davao
    • 1. Panabo
    • 2. Tagum
    • 3. Carmen
    • 4. Davao City
    • 5. Digos

 

By June, DITO’s services are expected to be available nationwide. “It’s going to be a launch in waves,” says Adel Tamano, chief administrative officer.

“We do have our targets for the number of subscribers that we have for the first year,” he says.

 

Expansions and interconnections laid

The firm has signed interconnection deals with Globe and PLDT, extending and expanding its accessibility and reach so that subscribers from the three networks can contact each other.

Telco towers to enhance and better its service are being set up, including those in military camps that came under scrutiny over national security fears. The telecommunity firm still awaits approval for the construction of five towers in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, Santiago says.

Its nationwide rollout is expected before the second regulatory check on 08 July. By that time, the firm would have covered 51% of the population experiencing a minimum broadband speed of 55 Mbps.

“We are banking on our 5G technology to reach that,” Santiago says.

Capital investments this year has been set at P26 billion, far smaller compared to Globe’s P70 billion and PLDT’s minimum of P88 billion. This is because the company “frontloaded” investments during its first year at P150 billion, Tamano explains. That is why even before June, DITO’s services will already be available throughout the country, says Tamano.

 

Communications solutions for growth impact

A third telco’s entry is what the Duterte administration deems as a permanent solution to the country’s shoddy telecommunications service, which was further put under strain by the accentuated shift to remote working and schooling during the current health crisis.

Delays in DITO’s ground-laying and building plans underscored bureaucratic red tapes that caused slow construction of more cell sites that could enhance connection.

To overcome the bureaucratic hurdles, the Government allowed new tower firms to open shop for outsourcing tower constructions to save time and costs. However, when the pandemic stuck, this sector became quiet. But in January, President Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11517 authorizing himself to suspend or drop national and local clearances to expedite public and private projects. The law was welcomed by telco firms. (JSM/JuanManila)

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