Sunday, 11 April 2021

DITO Telecommunity launches to break up Philippines duopoly

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Monday 08 March 21

The entrance of DITO to the market comes three years after the country first sought a new player

For over three years now, the government of the Philippines, lead by controversial President Rodrigo Duterte, have been seeking a third player to enter their telecoms market. Initial plans aimed to see a new telco offering commercial services by the end of Q1 2018, but this deadline quickly came and went, leaving Duterte enraged and threatening to personally take over the process…

For over three years now, the government of the Philippines, lead by controversial President Rodrigo Duterte, have been seeking a third player to enter their telecoms market. Initial plans aimed to see a new telco offering commercial services by the end of Q1 2018, but this deadline quickly came and went, leaving Duterte enraged and threatening to personally take over the process.
 
In November of that year, bidding was held to determine the prospective third major telco in the Philippines, ultimately won by a Mislatel consortium lead by Udenna Corporation and China Telecom. By 2019, Mislatel had renamed itself ‘Dito Telecommunity’, ‘Dito’ aptly meaning ‘here’ in Filipino.
 
However, by the middle of 2020, however, DITO was still jumping through the requisite legislative hoops and had not yet launched. Meanwhile, Duterte’s patience with the struggles of the existing telcos, Globe Telecom and PLDT, was beginning to boil over. In July, he threatened the telcos with closure in his State of the Nation Address.
 
“Don’t make us wait 10 years for services other countries are enjoying. Go and look for capital. If you are not ready to improve, I might as well close all of you,” he said. 
 
Now, over three years since it was first announced that the Philippines were seeking a third telco, today sees DITO finally launch commercial services. Its services will be available in 15 areas in Visayas and Mindanao, with rapid expansion planned throughout the coming months. 
 
DITO aims to deliver an average broadband speed of 27 megabits per second and cover 37% of the country's population after its first year of operations. Nationwide rollout is reportedly targetted by mid-2021, with the company initially set to offer LTE and later 5G services.
 
While this launch will certainly be good news for Duterte and the government in their quest to invigorate the nation’s telecoms sector, the extent to which DITO will be able to compete with its more established rivals remains to be seen.
 
In late 2019, DITO claimed that it would be able to secure 30% of the market in its “first few years of operations”. But the existing telcos are largely unconcerned, arguing that these targets are overly optimistic. Joachim Horn, Next Generation Technology Solutions advisor of Smart Communications, Inc. (PLDT), told reporters during a financial briefing that "as far as we have information in the areas DITO is launching, they cannot [get] even close on the coverage we have already." 
 
 
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