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Third telco DITO launches commercially in Visayas-Mindanao: 'Dito na kami'

By Bim Santos Published Mar 08, 2021 2:18 am Updated Mar 09, 2021 8:54 pm

DITO Telecommunity, the so-called third major player in the telecom industry, has gone live today in a bid to challenge the well-entrenched incumbents by claiming to offer cheaper and better services.

The telecom's service officially went onstream at 12 pm today, March 8, at 15 key cities in Visayas and Mindanao. The event was marked by a ceremonial press conference attended by key officials namely DITO Chair and CEO Dennis Uy, Department of Information and Communications Technology Sec. Gringo Honasan, National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) Chair Gamaliel Cordoba and Davao City Vice Mayor Sebastian "Baste" Duterte.

"We faced the senate, congress, regulators, knowing a good number of people think that we would fail. They were wrong," said Uy. "We want the entire country to know that dito na kami, dito na tayo, and magkita-kita tayo lahat very soon."

DITO's launch comes two years after the consortium then operating under the original franchise of Mislatel bagged a much-coveted and much-valued bundle of frequencies from the NTC in a highly contested bidding in Nov. 2018. In 2019, lawmakers approved the formal transfer of Mislatel's franchise to DITO, a joint venture of Uy, a known friend of President Rodrigo Duterte, and the state-run China Telecom.

Clockwise from top left: DITO Chair Dennis Uy, Davao City Vice Mayor Baste Duterte, DITO chief administrative officer Adel Tamano, DITO Telecommunity chief technology officer Rodolfo Santiago, and NTC Chair Gamaliel Cordoba

"The goal has always been to boost healthy competition in the telecom sector and advance growth," Honasan said during the virtual presser. "After overcoming hurdles, we hope that this commercial launch would bring welcome dynamism to the Philippine telecom industry."

Maiden promo
For its opening salvo, DITO launched an unlimited call and text offer for P199 valid for 30 days. DITO said they are selling their SIM cards for P40.

The initial roll-out will cover the following areas:

* Metro Cebu - Carcar, Cebu City, Consolacion, Danao, Liloan, Mandaue, Minglanilla, Naga, San Fernando & Talisay
* Metro Davao - Panabo, Tagum, Carmen, Davao City & Digos

In line with the company's minimum service levels that it committed to fulfill to the NTC in 2019, DITO will be offering 27 megabits per second speed to 37% of the population for the first year, which needs to ramp up to 55 mbps and 80% respectively in the fifth year.

You can see our competitors scrambling now by lowering their offers and it’s something that we love.

"Mission accomplished," said DITO Telecommunity chief technology officer Rodolfo Santiago, a retired general, at the presscon. Santiago said they are confident of hitting their commitments for the succeeding years.

DITO chief administrative officer Adel Tamano said they are well prepared to compete.

Globe Telecom’s newly launched GOMO brand just announced an offering pre-empting DITO’s launch, which was a P199 unlimited data plan in Visayas and Mindanao with no expiration, starting March 15.

"You can see our competitors scrambling by lowering their offers and it’s something that we love. Just goes to show that they can offer that a long time ago, but it's great that they are offering it now as it brings real competition," said Tamano.

Tamano refused to detail their launch dates in Luzon and Metro Manila, only saying that they will be in NCR in the next few weeks.

Healthy dynamism
"The launch of this new telco heralds the introduction of healthy dynamism in the telecommunications industry, and only serves to benefit Philippine business and Filipino consumers with wider choices of services and solutions for all their connectivity requirements," DITO CME Holdings president Eric Alberto, a former high-ranking executive of PLDT-Smart, told PhilSTAR L!fe.

Expectations are high for DITO to deliver after the public has long clamored for a third player to upend what has been called the “duopoly” of PLDT-Smart and Globe Telecom. President Duterte has also vowed to break up the duopoly back when he was still campaigning for the presidency.

DITO's website dito.ph is now live

In 2016, hopes were up after San Miguel Corp., flush with cash and having consolidated the needed spectrum assets, teamed up with Australian telecom giant Telstra to enter the country’s telecom industry. But the plan was called off in March, followed by San Miguel selling off the frequencies to the incumbents shortly after. To avoid market concentration, some of those frequencies were reverted to the NTC, which now found its way to DITO.

“Like any Internet user I look forward to this new option has to offer. I hope to see them disrupt the market and give more people a choice for their connectivity needs,” Grace Mirandilla Santos, convenor of the Better Broadband Alliance, on DITO’s official entry, said in a separate interview.