MANILA, Philippines — After 6 months of delays due to coronavirus lockdowns, it's now all systems go for the "technical launch" of Dito Telecommunity Corp.
The telco startup of Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy had already informed the National Telecommunications Commission of its "readiness" for the scheduled January 7 audit, a statement said on Thursday.
It was a schedule postponed for half a year after the China-led telco failed to build enough towers by July last year because coronavirus lockdowns halted construction work for months.
Under a technical launch, the government will examine whether Dito would meet a pledge to regulators to provide 27 mbps minimum average internet speed to 37% of the country's population in its first year of operations. The assessment will be conducted by a third party auditor, RG Manabat & Co.
“For the past months, amid the difficulties posed by the current global pandemic, DITO has made great strides in the roll-out to ensure that the results of the audit will be positive," Adel Tamano, company chief administrative officer, said.
The outcome of the technical launch is crucial to Dito's ambitions after senators, who were unconvinced that the company can fulfill its promises, put the firm's bid for a new franchise in limbo pending the results of the audit. Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company (Mislatel) currently acts as the franchise holder of Dito, the 60-40 joint venture between Uy and state-owned China Telecom.
Granted in April 1998, Mislatel's 25-year franchise will expire in 2023 or in the middle of Dito's nascent commercial operations.
Based on the company's timeline, auditors have 30 days to complete the field test and another 15 days to prepare the final report. But regardless of technical launch results, Dito said the planned commercial roll-out beginning March, when it will start offering services, will not be hampered.
"As I have said before, DITO Telecommunity is poised to finally offer its services to the Filipino people in March, world class connectivity that they truly deserve, as we launch commercially," Tamano said.