The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has granted DITO Telecommunity Corp., a joint venture of businessman Dennis Uy and China Telecoms, six months extension for the technical audit of its network rollout.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said the NTC issued a resolution extending the July 2020 technical audit under the certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) provisions of DITO due to COVID-19 crisis.
Under the current extension, DITO is given within six months to deliver the commitments for the technical audit requirements- that is to provide a speed of 27 megabits per second to cover 37 percent of the population.
DITO Chief Administrative Officer Atty. Adel Tamano said that only the technical audit schedule was moved.
DITO’s other commitments, such as the commercial launch this March 2021, will proceed as scheduled.
In a report to the DICT on its current progress, DITO Telecommunity is on track for its March 2021 commercial launch.
According to DITO, they reported the successful series of local and international test phone calls made, with the last of the first test calls made on 27 March 2020 – almost two months earlier than the May 2020 milestone as stated in the Certificate of CPCN granted to them by the government.
DITO Telecommunity reported that the local calls made were with the five regional subdivisions representing the five DITO vendors in the country, namely Huawei for North Luzon, Northern and Southern for the National Capital Region (NCR); ZTE for South Luzon and the Visayas; and Huaxin for Mindanao.
Two successful international phone calls had also been made, one to Hong Kong and another to Beijing China with China Telecom.
“DITO has informed us that they have, in fact, begun limited user testing and have discussed their plans of expanding this within the next few months under the friendly user test,” DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said.
“They have activated a significant number of sites wherein phone calls and connection to the internet are possible, and have put-up, in various stages of completion, a total of one thousand three hundred (1,300) towers on top of the Common Tower Agreements with Independent Tower Contractors they have secured,” he added.
DITO Telecommunity also reported that the pandemic did cause a number of key infrastructure delays as they were approaching peak potential on the roll-out of DITO.
Retired Major General Rodolfo Santiago, Chief Technology Officer of DITO, previously mentioned that DITO prepared for any eventuality by putting in place locally sourced materials needed for the roll-out, but as the situation evolved, even local industries had experienced difficulty in meeting their commitments due to COVID-19 pandemic and the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
Most of the scheduled material supplies from China such as fiber cables, DC containers, base stations, towers, and telecom ancillaries failed to arrive as scheduled causing delays in the roll-out.
Despite these limitations, more than 250 tower sites are now operational, integrated and on air, and interim network operation centers are in place to allow limited internet connection and phone calls.
The hardest hit during the ECQ was the laying of domestic and submarine cables.
The company currently has 1,300 towers in construction, of which only 300 are already live.
DIto Telecommunity plans to rollout 2,000 cell sites nationwide by end of the year.