DITO Telecommunity, one of the three big telecommunication corporations (telcos) in the country, has admitted that it would be unable to service unserved and underserved areas due to time constraints and the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Dito’s earlier admission of inability to prioritize remote areas in the country in its promised high-speed internet rollout was in response to Senator Grace Poe’s challenge for the third telco to also provide far-flung barangays with connectivity.
Dito Telecommunity’s Chief Technology Officer Rodolfo Santiago disclosed this at the recent Senate public hearing on the renewal of its legislative franchise.
“Since we’re only given one year to achieve the 37 percent population coverage, we prioritized areas that are most densely populated. It is quite rational that when our commitments are time-bound, we go to the most optimum way of meeting them,” Santiago said.
Santiago’s admission confirmed a report by Asia-Pacific industry think tank CreatorTech that Dito is focused on covering heavily populated under its license.
“Dito committed to 37 percent population coverage in the first year. The easiest way to achieve this would be to focus on high population densities such as the National Capital Region (NCR) of Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao City. This would still leave the ‘unserved and underserved’ regions of the country no better off, but would ensure the operator does not risk heavy fines for not meeting its commitments,” the report stated.
Poe has also challenged Dito to fulfill its commitment of covering 37 percent of the population within its first year of operations. The company won the franchise bid in 2018 to be the country’s third telco.
“In your commitment, you said you will cover 37 percent of the population in the first year. I understand you will not be able to set up in all underserved and unserved areas but at least you should be able to present to this committee a few that you’ve already started doing,” Poe said.
Poe, chairwoman of the Senate public services committee, also noted that Dito submitted a list of 7,425 barangays it committed to serve in its first year of application most of which are “in the NCR area where it’s the easiest way to go about it. “
“By strategically fulfilling its commitment to meet the said number of barangays mostly in the NCR area where it’s the easiest way to go about it, Dito is literally giving us the bare minimum of what it committed to do,” she said.
Aside from covering 37 percent of the population within its first year of operations, Dito committed to provide 27 mbps minimum average internet speed to 84 percent of the population in five years. The telco had to defer its technical launch scheduled for July this year by about six months due to the pandemic.
However, it insisted that it is still on track for its commercial launch in March next year.