DITO Telecommunity Corp. is set to start commercial operations in 17 cities and municipalities in Mindanao and the Visayas on March 8.

Adel A. Tamano, DITO’s chief administrative officer, said at an online briefing on Tuesday that the telco startup’s commercial rollout will be done in phases.

The third telco player will start offering its services in 17 cities and municipalities in Mindanao and the Visayas, he added.

Mr. Tamano expects DITO services to be available nationwide by June.

According to its officials, DITO recently signed interconnection agreements with PLDT, Inc. and Globe Telecom, Inc.

In an e-mailed statement, PLDT said it would establish and manage the interconnection facility.

“The interconnection hub will deliver the intercarrier requirements of DITO, which will benefit all fixed and wireless subscribers of PLDT and DITO by enabling them to communicate and connect to all the services needed,” PLDT said.

The new telco’s mobile number prefixes are: 0991, 0992, 0993, 0994, 0895, 0896, 0897, and 0898.

The National Telecommunications Commission announced on Monday that DITO was compliant with its commitments to cover 37.03% of the country’s population and provide a minimum average broadband speed of 27 megabits per second (Mbps) in its first year of service.

Independent auditor R.G. Manabat & Co. said in its report that DITO’s national population coverage reached 37.48%, while its minimum average broadband speeds delivered reached 85.9 Mbps and 507.5 Mbps for all 4G and 5G sites, respectively.

DITO Chief Technology Officer Rodolfo D. Santiago said at the briefing that speeds may differ from the audit results when the telco starts getting subscribers.

“We don’t want to overpromise that we’ll give more,” Mr. Tamano said. “We want to maintain the minimum average speed of 27 Mbps once we operate.”

The telco has a commitment to achieve 55 Mbps and 85% coverage during its second to fifth year of commercial operations.

The company is confident that it will pass the second technical audit in July, according to Mr. Santiago.

DITO spent P150 billion last year, and it aims to spend P26 billion more this year.

Asked about DITO’s marketing strategy, Mr. Tamano said the company will not be spending “millions” to get endorsers.

“We’d rather spend our money on towers than on K-Pop stars,” he said.

Both Globe and PLDT have hired Korean celebrities as their brand ambassadors.

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