THE House of Representatives, voting 240-7, approved on third and final reading on August 24, 2020 a bill seeking to grant a 25-year franchise to third telecommunications industry player Dito Telecommunity Corporation.
House Bill No. 7332 seeks to renew for another 25 years the franchise granted to Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company Inc., which is now known as Dito, upon its expiration on April 24, 2023.
The legislative franchise will allow Dito to construct, establish, install, maintain and operate wire and/or wireless telecommunications system in the Philippines.
Representative Weslie Gatchalian, one of the principal authors of the bill, said the entry of Dito in the telecommunications sector will result in better services and lower rates.
He said Dito is planning to establish up to 1,300 cell towers, which will improve internet penetration to 37 percent of the population by January 2021.
“Inaasahang aabot sa 1,300 na bagong cell sites ang itatayo ng DITO, na kayang abutin ang 37% ng populasyon pagsapit ng Enero 2021,” Gatchalian said in a Facebook post.
He said having a faster and stable internet connectivity is crucial to the implementation of distance learning schemes, work-from-home arrangements and e-governance.
Dito is a consortium of Davao businessman Dennis Uy's Udenna Corporation and subsidiary Chelsea Logistics and Infrastructure Holdings Corporation with China Telecommunications Corporation.
The company was declared as the country's third telecommunications player after a bidding conducted by the National Telecommunications Commission in November 2018.
A Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, or permit to operate, was issued to the consortium on July 8, 2019.
It had targeted to implement a pilot user program towards the end of 2019 and begin commercial operations in 2020. The target has been moved to 2021 amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
The company had committed to provide connectivity with an average speed of 27 Mbps on its first year of operations.
By its fifth year of operations, it is expected to cover 84.01 percent of the population and provide an average speed of 55 Mbps. (Marites Villamor-Ilano/SunStar Philippines)