Dito Telecommunity sets commercial launch for March 8

Dito Telecommunity will start offering its services on March 8, rolling out initially in Mindanao and the Visayas.

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

Dito chief administrative officer Adel Tamano explained on Tuesday, February 23, that the decision to roll out first in Mindanao was "sentimental."

"Before Dito became Dito, we were Mislatel (Mindanao Islamic Telephone). The roots of the company is to serve the underserved areas. We think it's fitting to start there the initial offer," said Tamano.

On March 8, Dito will start selling its SIM cards in about 20 stores in the Visayas and Mindanao. The 3rd telco player was assigned the mobile number prefixes 0991, 0992, 0993, 0994, 0895, 0896, 0897, and 0898.

Tamano added that online distribution will be available "a few weeks after" the March 8 launch.

While the SIM cards will only be sold in select areas starting March 8, mobile reception will still be available in other areas as Dito's population coverage is now at 45%, according to the telco officials.

Dito is offering 4G and 5G services and will not work on 3G-only devices. The 3rd telco player has yet to release its mobile and data plans, as well as handset offerings.

The nationwide rollout is expected by mid-2021.

Preparations for 2nd audit

Dito chief technology officer Rodolfo Santiago said the firm is "on track" with its targets for the 2nd technical audit scheduled in July.

On Monday, February 22, the National Telecommunications Commission said the 3rd telco player passed its 1st technical audit, surpassing expectations on speed.

Under its certificate of public convenience and necessity, Dito had committed to reach 55 megabits per second (Mbps) and 85% coverage during its 2nd to 5th year of operations.

Santiago reiterated that the 55 Mbps speed requirement will be reached as they expand 5G coverage. He earlier said that at least 2,000 towers were already constructed.

Tamano added that Dito already complied with the required capital expenditures of P150 billion as it has front-loaded expenses. For 2021, Dito targets to spend P26 billion more.

Partnership with military

Dito said it is awaiting the final approval of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to build initial tower sites in military camps.

Santiago did not expound on how many sites are being expected for the initial build, but he said there are at least 5 tower sites up for approval at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Dito CME Holdings Corporation was the top traded stock on Tuesday, but it was down by 1.77% to close at P17.8 apiece. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.

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