Mindanao, Visayas first to use Dito services in March 8 launch


MANILA, Philippines — Startup Dito Telecommunity chose Mindanao and Visayas for its March 8 debut—when it begins commercial operations and an ambitious goal to challenge PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom’s hold on the local telecommunications industry.

Dito chief administrative officer Adel Tamano said during a media briefing on Tuesday that users in  Metro Manila and Luzon will follow after a few weeks or by the middle of 2021.

A day after the National Telecommunications Commission confirmed Dito passed its first network audit, Tamano said the company was preparing for its commercial launch, where it will begin accepting paying subscribers to use its call, text and mobile internet services.

Tamano said Dito will not have a splashy debut featuring high-profile endorsers. Instead, they plan to mark the occasion with a “simple” event and the unveiling of a corporate social responsibility initiative on March 8.

Dito’s initial launch locations will be in 17 cities and municipalities. He said these areas in Visayas and especially Mindanao also carried “sentimental” meaning.

Dito’s telco franchise’s original owners meant to provide services in Mindanao while President Duterte, the longtime mayor of Davao, played a key role in paving the way for the entry of a new telco competitor.

“This was an initiative of the President and his purpose, as we understand it, really is to bring competition and provide services to he underserved,” Tamano said.

“The way that we will launch it, even the choice—we are choosing to launch it in Mindanao and not NCR [National Capital Region]—speaks to that,” he added.

A venture between Davao-based businessman Dennis A. Uy and China Telecom, Dito does not hold any 2G frequencies and will offer only 4G and 5G services.

These frequencies are ideal for high-speed mobile browsing on smartphones but leave out a major slice of the Philippine population using older 2G phones equipped with simple call and text messaging (SMS) features.

“If they remain just voice and SMS, they will not be empowered to take advantage of the technology they can utilize to improve their lives,” Rodolfo Santiago, Dito chief technology officer, said during the same briefing.

As the company prepares for its commercial launch, Santiago said they were also readying for their second network audit on July 8 this year.

He said they were so far on track on meet their commitment to cover 51 percent of the population and provide a minimum average internet speed of 55 megabits per second.

“Right now, what I can say is we are about 45 percent population coverage,” said Santiago, explaining that they were also ramping up the 5G rollout to reach the required internet speed.

Dito committed to cover 84 percent of the Philippine population and offer a minimum average internet speed of 55 Mbps by the end of its fifth year or by 2024.

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