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Dito Telecom to miss technical launch deadline as infra rollout scaled back by COVID-19

Dito Telecommunity Corp. on Wednesday said it is unlikely to meet the July 8 deadline for its technical launch, which the company earlier committed to the government as the country's third telecommunications player.

Dito chief administrative officer Adel Tamano on Wednesday said the company's rollout has not been at full capacity given the lockdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"The COVID and the lockdowns have prevented us from our full rollout," he said in a Senate hearing.

"With the subsequent easing of the different lockdown situations, we are doing our best to get back on track so that we can get the 37% (population coverage) requirement under our CPC completed," he added.

Metro Manila and other "high-risk" areas were placed under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from March 17 to May 15, followed by a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until May 31.

A general community quarantine (GCQ) was put in place from June 1 to 15, and has since been extended until July 15.

Under its commitments, Dito vowed to provide a minimum speed of 27 megabits per second and achieve a nationwide coverage of 37.03% in its first year of operations, which will be on July 8.

Tamano said the company currently has 1,300 towers in construction, of which only 300 are already live.

"To get the 37% coverage that is our requirement under our CPC, we only need not 1,600 towers but only 1,300 towers," he said.

"Within this year, we will build 2,000 towers. That will exceed already the 37% national requirement under our CPC," added Tamano.

Should the company fail to meet its commitments, Dito stands to lose its P24 billion performance bond.

According to former Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) undersecretary Eliseo Rio, Jr., the company can technically spend until the rest of the year to meet its commitments.

Under the terms, Rio said that Dito can opt to avail of a technical audit of its commitments, which will give the company six months to fulfill its obligations.

"Six months to satisfy their commitment, so that means up to end of the year and they have not, as far as I know, they have not requested for any postponement of that commitment," he said in the same hearing.

Dito, formerly Mislatel Consortium, was awarded its permit to operate as the third telecommunications player of the country on July 8, 2019.

The consortium is made up of Davao businessman Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corporation, Udenna's subsidiary Chelsea Logistics Holdings Inc., and Chinese state-owned China Telecommunications Corporation.—AOL, GMA News