DITO remains 'on track' with March 2021 launch despite audit delay

Jessica Fenol and Warren De Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 03 2020 10:10 AM | Updated as of Jul 03 2020 01:31 PM

DITO chief administrative officer Adel Tamano and DITO chief technology officer Retired Mj Gen. Rodolfo Santiago at a briefing at their headquarters in Taguig City on February 20, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA (UPDATE) -- DITO Telecommunity said Friday it was still "on track" to meet its commercial launch in March 2021 despite delays in its technical audit originally set this month.

The technical audit, originally scheduled on July 8 has been "pushed back", its consortium member Chelsea Logistics said in a disclosure to stock exchange. The audit or technical review allows the government to check its network rollout and infrastructure.

DITO requested for a 6-month extension on the technical audit due to work stoppage that delayed construction works on its towers, chief administrative officer Adel Tamano told reporters in a separate press briefing.

The delay in the technical launch won't affect the scheduled March 2021 commercial launch, he said.

"We are on track for our commercial launch this March 2021 and we’re moving heaven and earth really to make that happen and to make it a successful launch," Tamano said.

"March 2021 or earlier than that DITO will have a commercial launch and we will have a third telco servicing the Filipinos," he added.

Businesses, schools and transport are all recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns that halted the economy since March. Metro Manila transitioned to looser general community quarantine on June 1.

After the technical audit, the telco will have time to remedy any issues found by the government, Tamano said.

Out of its first year commitment of 1,300 towers, 300 are now "live" while 500 have been erected, chief technology officer Rodolfo Santiago said. The 300 online towers cover 9 percent of the population, below the 37 percent commitment for the first year.

All erected towers are likely to be operational in two weeks time, he said. It has also inked deals with 3 common tower builders for 500 more towers, Santiago said.

Santiago added that the telco has done its first voice call and video call test in March, ahead of its May target. DITO is also conducting "stress tests" on the existing network, he said.

DITO can complete the commitment of 1,300 towers within 4 months "barring any work stoppages" due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Santiago said.

DITO, a consortium of Dennis Uy's Udenna Corp and Chelsea Logistics with China Telecom, has committed to deliver 27 megabits per second internet speed within its first year of operations or near-Singapore levels, and "way better" than that of Globe Telecom and PLDT Inc.