Dito Telecommunity: COVID-19 prevented us from doing full rollout

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 1) — The country's third telco player said challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have prevented it from doing a full rollout this year.

Speaking at the virtual hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Services on Wednesday, Dito Chief Administrative Officer Adel Tamano said it took about six months to get all permits ready to build the towers.

He said they have had good interactions with mayors of the places where the towers were put up, but restrictions brought about by the crisis stopped the firm from proceeding.

"The COVID and the lockdowns have prevented us from our full rollout," he said.

However, Tamano said with the easing of the restrictions, Dito is moving forward with the building of the towers.

"With the subsequent easing of the different lockdown situations we are doing our best to get back on track so that we can get the 37 percent first year requirement under our CPC completed," he said.

Tamano said 1,300 towers are being built, and 300 of these are already live. He said the company hopes to finish around 2,000 within the year.

By the end of their five-year commitment period, Tamano said the internal goal as a company is to have 10,000 towers built.

For his part, former Department of Information and Communications Technology undersecretary Eliseo Rio said Dito committed that by July 8 it will have 27 megabits per second speed, and about 37 percent population coverage.

"However in the same terms of reference, they are given — if they fail to have that, well, technical audit, not commercial but technical audit by July 8 they are given six months to satisfy their commitment," he said.

Rio explained that DITO has until the end of the year to fulfill its commitments, and so far the telco has not applied for a postponement.

"Definitely they are saying that they could not have the 1,300 finished by July 8, that's already next week, but definitely it will be finished by December 31 and that is still within the requirements or conditions or provision of the terms of reference," Rio said.

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.

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