PLDT downplays DITO Telecommunity's presence in telco industry

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 4) — New player DITO Telecommunity has a long way to go before it could even challenge the dominance of PLDT, an official of the Pangilinan-led telco said Thursday.

In a virtual briefing, Joachim Horn, Next Generation Technology Solutions Advisor of Smart Communications, Inc., said he's not worried the third telco player could easily get the upper hand in the industry, stressing DITO will "take a long time to catch up".

"As far as we have information in the areas DITO is launching, they cannot [get] even close on the coverage we have already," he told reporters after the company presented its 2020 financial results.

"I would not be too concerned about DITO because we will be always ahead of our network," Horn added.

DITO—backed by Davao businessman Dennis Uy and state-run China Telecommunications—is now fully set for its commercial launch on Monday, March 8.

Its reach would initially be limited to 15 areas in the Visayas and Mindanao. But DITO chief administrative officer Adel Tamano earlier said the group is eyeing to make the coverage "available throughout the country" by the middle of this year.

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Late in 2019, DITO also said it was bullish on securing 30% of the market share within its "first few years of operations"—a statement both PLDT and Globe had previously shrugged off.

According to Horn, PLDT would continue on its massive network buildup to protect its position in the Philippine market.

"We will continue to push, I think this is the best defense to whoever wants to challenge us," he said.

For this year, PLDT is looking to spend up to ₱92 billion.

2020 financial performance

PLDT on Thursday said its net income went up by 8% to ₱24.3 billion against the ₱22.5 billion it posted in 2019 on the back of strong service revenues.

Consolidated service revenues in the period also jumped by 9% to ₱171.5 billion—its highest full-year revenue yet—as demand for internet connectivity spiked amid the COVID-19 pandemic, when Filipinos were forced to adopt distance learning and work-from-home setup.

PLDT chief Manuel V. Pangilinan is optimistic the group's consolidated services revenues could further witness high single digits in 2021.

"The board today is quite happy with the results but reminded us to do better. We have to stretch to reach that potential. The thing is that the management team deserves the credit for the great work that they did for 2020, but there's no time for a victory lap. They should not look at the rear-view mirror, face forward, and look ahead to what we will be doing in the next years," the business tycoon said.

Is MVP ready to quit the CEO post?

Asked if he would step down from his position once PLDT becomes financially stable, Pangilinan said: "What did I say? Power corrupts...I want to prove to the world that I'm not the type who would cling to power..."

"There's always a time to give up and I think the time is soon. Don't worry I will keep my word," he added.

Shares in PLDT slightly fell by .08% or ₱1 to finish at ₱1,290 each on Thursday.