MANILA - The House of Representatives on Monday approved a bill granting a fresh 25-year franchise to third telco player DITO Telecommunity formerly known as Mislatel.
Lawmakers voted 240 to 7, approving House Bill 7332 on its third and final reading or "An act renewing for another 25 years the franchise granted to Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company Inc, presently known as DITO Telecommunity Corp."
It also amended the Republic Act No. 8627 known as "an act granting the Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company Inc, a franchise to construct, establish, install, maintain and operate wire and/or wireless telecommunications system," the bill reads.
DITO is a consortium of Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy's Udenna Corp and Chelsea Logistics with China Telecom, mounting its network to challenge the duopoly of Globe Telecom and PLDT Inc.
DITO, formerly known as Mislatel was awarded with its certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) in July 2019 during a Palace ceremony.
The consortium committed to cover 37 percent of the population and offer speeds of up to 27 mbps on its first year of operations. It earlier posted a P25.7-billion performance bond for their commitments as the new major player.
The coronavirus pandemic has delayed its technical audit, but the group said it remains on track for its commercial launch slated in March 2021.
As of July, 300 out of its committed 1,300 towers were live, while 500 have been erected, DITO's chief technology officer Rodolfo Santiago said.
President Rodrigo Duterte, during his 5th State of the Nation Address, threatened to shut telcos Globe and Smart if no improvements are made until December.
The Bayanahin 2 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One bill, has a provision streamlining the permitting process in building telco towers.
Globe Telecom said the measure, once approved, could help at least double the number of towers in the country.
Globe and PLDT Inc so far have a combined number of 25,000 cell towers nationwide.