Setback after setback, Dito, the country’s third telco has recently announced that it will be delaying its commercial launch in PH due to unforeseen restrictions brought by the coronavirus.
It seems like the company should be ready to address another factor in its rollout woes as the United States Department of Justice and other federal agencies asked the Federal Communications Commission to terminate China Telecom’s authorization to operate in the US.
According to various US agencies, including the Department of Justice and the State Department, state-owned China Telecom is “vulnerable to exploitation, influence, and control” by the Chinese government.
US federal agencies also pointed out that China Telecom has been involved in “evolving national security environment since 2007” and “increased knowledge of the People’s Republic of China’s role in malicious cyber activity targeting the United States.”
This is a major blow to Dito, which is 40 percent owned by China Telecom. According to DITO Telecommunity chief administrative officer Adel Tamano, China Telecom provides for Dito’s technology needs so they could be at par with competitors Globe Telecom and PLDT.
“They are our technology partner and we are leaning heavily on them for that. Sila ang expert d’yan,” Tamano said.
Here in the Philippines, Dito’s connection to China Telecom is also an issue. The company’s partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philippines which should allow them to build network structures inside the AFP’s bases was questioned due to risks to national security and spying concerns.
Dito is set to finalize their rollout by March 2021. Under the franchise agreement, the company should put up at least 1,600 towers by July of this year, but only 600 towers are currently under construction.
According to Dito, the delay in the remaining 1,000 structures is due to the logistics restrictions because of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said that there will be no special extensions for DITO as the company should comply with its commitment to meet the initial timeline.
In January this year, the DICT is one of those who expressed confidence that Dito will be able to start its commercial rollout in July of this year, saying that the telco is on track to deliver its promise of bringing 27 Mbps internet in the country.
Apart from China, Dito’s operations in PH is backed by Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy, a known close friend of President Rodrigo Duterte and one of his major donors in his presidential campaigns.
Will Dito still be able to deliver its promise of cheap, efficient, and more reliable internet service for the Filipinos? With all these China-related issues surrounding the company, it’s hard to even guess.