By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter
THE National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has given Dennis A. Uy’s DITO Telecommunity Corp. more time for its “technical launch,” moving the July 2020 deadline to January 2021.
“In relation to the delay caused by the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) crisis, the NTC issued a resolution extending the July 2020 technical audit under the CPCN (certificate of public convenience and necessity) provisions,” the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said in a statement e-mailed to reporters on Thursday.
It said that DITO is given “within six months to deliver the commitments for the technical audit requirements — that is to provide a speed of 27 megabits per second (Mbps) to cover 37% of the population.”
Adel A. Tamano, DITO chief administrative officer, implied at a Senate committee hearing on Wednesday that the new telco player might miss the July 8 deadline for its technical launch.
“The COVID-19 and the lockdowns have prevented us from our full rollout. With the subsequent easing of the different lockdown situations, we are doing our best to get back on track,” he said.
Mr. Tamano said DITO’s CPCN requires 1,300 cell sites to cover 37% of the population for its technical launch. The DICT said DITO now has more than 250 operational tower sites nationwide.
Mr. Tamano also told the Senate on Wednesday that DITO intends to finish 2,000 cell sites this year, exceeding the 37% coverage requirement under its CPCN.
The DICT said only the technical launch schedule was moved.
During the so-called technical launch, the NTC will audit DITO’s compliance with the government’s requirement to cover 37% of the population nationwide with 27 Mbps.
DITO’s other commitments, such as the commercial launch in March 2021, will proceed as scheduled, the DICT quoted Mr. Tamano as saying in its statement.
DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said: “DITO has informed us that they have, in fact, begun limited user testing and have discussed their plans of expanding this within the next few months under the friendly user test.”
“They have activated a significant number of sites wherein phone calls and connection to the internet are possible, and have put-up, in various stages of completion, a total of 1,300 towers on top of the Common Tower Agreements with Independent Tower Contractors they have secured,” he added.