Dennis A. Uy’s Dito Telecommunity Corp. is expecting to finish the construction of 1,300 cell towers — the number of towers needed to meet regulatory requirements — by October.
On Thursday, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) announced that it had approved the appeal of the telecommunications firm to extend its technical audit, which the latter said did not affect its technical runs.
“The only thing that we asked to be moved is our audit,” Dito Chief Administrative Officer Adel. A Tamano clarified to reporters in a virtual briefing on Friday.
The NTC moved Dito’s technical audit to Jan. 7 next year, from the earlier July 8 schedule.
It is stated in Dito’s certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) that in its first year of operations, it must meet a target coverage of 37% of the country’s population and a speed of 27 megabits per second (Mbps).
According to Rodolfo D. Santiago, Dito’s chief technology officer, of the 1,300 target cell sites it needs to reach the required coverage, 300 have already been completed and can run as a network, while 500 have towers erected but are yet to have support facilities installed.
These sites are self-built and are located on private properties. Mr. Santiago said the construction of the target sites can be completed by October.
Dito has already conducted some technical tests, albeit internally, since March. These tests could have been done in public if not for the lockdown, the company noted.
“We’ve already done our first phone calls and there are a number of our sites that are already live, so [these] were not affected,” Mr. Tamano said.
He said the company had conducted a series of domestic technical calls via its own network in five areas in the country, as well as some international calls to Hong Kong and Beijing.
Meanwhile, the company still has its CPCN-granted remediation periods, the time when it can rectify faults in construction and preliminary operations, despite moving its technical audit.
“The extension does not affect the number of remediation periods we have,” Mr. Tamano said.
Even if it failed to meet some of its regulatory requirements in January next year, Dito claimed it can still proceed with its commercial run.
“We are on track for our commercial launch this March 2021 and we are moving heaven and earth to make that happen,” Mr. Tamano said.
Dito has allotted P150 billion for capital expenditure to start operations as the country’s third telecommunications player. — Adam J. Ang