Philippines' major telecom player DITO set for commercial launch

File Photo: AFP

MANILA, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- DITO Telecommunity Corp., one of the major telecom players in the Philippines, is all set for commercial rollout on March 8, the company said on Tuesday.

DITO Chief Administrative Officer Adel Tamano announced the commercial launch a day after the company passed the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) first network audit.

On Monday, the NTC confirmed that DITO has met its initial population coverage and minimum average internet speed commitments to the Philippine government.

DITO said the company, which is owned by Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy and China Telecom, will offer its services first in the country's southern Mindanao region and central Visayas region.

Tamano said the commercial rollout will be done "in waves," opening first in 17 cities and municipalities, including Davao City and Cebu City.

DITO currently covers about 45 percent of the Philippine population and is committed to covering 84 percent in five years.

"It's a phased launch. We are going to first start in Mindanao. There's a sentimental reason for that. If you recall, before DITO became DITO, we were the Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company. It was actually set up to serve the underserved areas in Mindanao. We thought it fitting to start the initial offer there," Tamano said.

Tamano said DITO will start selling SIM cards in about 20 stores in the Visayas and Mindanao regions. Online distribution will follow "a few weeks after," he added.

Tamano said DITO is also talking with its Chinese partners to bring in 5G-enabled handsets, required for 5G connectivity.

Chief Technology Officer Rodolfo Santiago said DITO is on track with its target for the second technical audit scheduled for July.

DITO won a government-led bidding in 2018 to introduce new competition in a market where industry incumbents PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom are two main players.