Dito Telecommunity pushes back rollout to 2020

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 9) — As Dito Telecommunity Corporation (formerly Mislatel Consortium) gets ready to offer its services, it asked potential customers for more patience.

While commercial operations were initially targeted to begin as early as September this year, Dito spokesperson Adel Tamano said they have moved the target to the second quarter of 2020.

"While has there been some talk of commercial operations starting as early as September or November, realistically our target is in 2020 because we want to put our network in place so we'll have good service," Tamano said in an interview with CNN Philippines Tuesday.

He said this will ensure the quality of their services.

"Our first offer to the public has to be really good, and that is why we are asking the public to have a little bit of patience. Although andito na kami (we're here), we want to provide really good service, and to do that we can not rush," Tamano said.

Asked on what Dito has to offer, Tamano said they will immediately roll out 4G LTE broadband.

"The reason that we're rolling this out is because we don't want to roll out the same kind of technology as our competitors. We want to offer something better so our first initial rollout is 4G LTE," Tamano said.

By 2021, Tamano said that customers can expect 5G technology.

As for it's major competitors, Smart Communications and Globe Telecom, Tamano said that the battlefield is not who could offer the lowest prices, but who could offer the best service.

"I think it’s not going to be a price war. It’s gonna be a quality war, because what we are going to offer really, and I think what Filipinos are asking for, is really the quality of the service," Dito Telecommunity's spokesperson said.

The China connection

Major shareholders in Dito Telecommunity include business tycoon Dennis Uy's Udenna Corporation and it's subsidiary Chelsea Logistics, with a 35 percent and 25 percent stake each.

China Telecom, ran by the Chinese government, is the single biggest stakeholder at 40 percent.

Still, Tamano said that Dito is a Filipino company, controlled by Filipinos.

"Dito is a Filipino company. The officers are Filipino. And we will never allow China or any country to undermine our national security or cybersecurity," he said.

He added that it was unfair to assume that China Telecom is a cybersecurity risk just because it's owned by another country.

"Does there being a Chinese company mean that there is already a cybersecurity risk? I think that’s unfair," he added.

Dito, then operating as Mislatel, was called to the Senate in November 27 last year to answer allegations of China Telecom being a risk to national security.

Senator Grace Poe cited reports on how the company was able to reroute internet traffic from countries such as the United States and Canada. 

Concern was also raised on the possible use of Huawei technologies after the Chinese telecommunications equipment company was blacklisted in the United States after U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order that declared the company as a security threat. 

Then Acting Information and Communications Technology Secretary Eliseo Rio, who was at the forefront of the selection process for the third provisional major telecommunications player, said that they had made sure that telco companies would not use their networks as a threat to national security.

"What we did was to make it the responsibility of the telcos that they will be responsible in assuring the government and the people that their networks will not be used as a threat to our national security, or else they will lose their license," Rio said.

CNN Philippines' correspondent Rex Remitio contributed to this report.