NTC extends Dito Telecommunity deadline to deliver on technical audit requirements

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 3) — The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has extended for six months the deadline for the technical audit of third major telco Dito Telecommunity.

In a resolution, the regulator gave Dito Telecommunity six more months or until January 7, 2021 to deliver on its commitments for the technical audit.

Under its certificate of public convenience and necessity or CPCN, Dito should provide internet speed of 27 megabits per second to cover 37 percent of the population.

Dito earlier said this would require the construction of 1,300 cell towers.

As of July 1, however, Dito said in a Senate hearing it only finished putting up 300 cell towers.

The company earlier filed an appeal with the NTC for the extension due to delays caused by the COVID-19 lockdown.

In an online media briefing on Friday, Dito said 75%-80% of work stopped due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) implemented in March.

Dito Chief Technology Officer Rodolfo Santiago said a number of contractors had difficulty producing and delivering materials such as steel and coal.

He, however, said the construction of more than a thousand cell towers are ongoing under relaxed restrictions.

“Wala kaming disruption. Even in Cebu na ECQ, wala kaming report ng work stoppage… Every day we start construction in several sites,” Santiago said.

[Translation: We do not have disruption. Even in Cebu which is under ECQ, we do not have a report of work stoppage. Every day, we start construction in several sites.]

He added that all 1,300 cell sites will be put up on private lands.

Meanwhile, Dito Chief Administrative Officer Adel Tamano said the telco will meet the target commercial launch.

“Our commercial launch let’s say the drop-dead date is March 21, 2021. But it could happen earlier than that,” he said.

Tamano said the extension is outside the options available for Dito under its CPCN should it fail to meet a deadline. The company can avail of this twice.

“The remediation periods were not affected. Again, you have to have an audit first... Hence, since we won’t have an audit in July, the remediation periods will only apply once we get an audit,” Tamano explained. “The first one, being January 2021. With the hope, of course, that we pass our audits.”

If Dito is unable to meet its commitment three times, the government may forfeit its P25.7-billion performance bond and the frequency given to the company.