In his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Rodrigo Duterte gave telecommunications companies (telcos) until December or a 5-month deadline to improve services or face expropriation. Since deadlines really matter to the president, how come that he failed to notice DITO Telecommunity which has been deadbeat when it comes to meeting its obligations?

In July 2019, the Duterte administration granted Davao-based businessman and presidential friend Dennis Uy a franchise to put up third telco player DITO Telecommunity. A franchise means great power but it also demands great responsibility. Apparently, DITO has a lot of it but let’s just talk about the immediate ones.

DITO vowed to deliver 2,500 cell sites by July 2020, a year or more than five months after its franchise was granted. With that number of cell sites, the third telco player must deliver an average of 27Mbps Internet connection speed to at least 37% of the population within the given time frame.

As we all know, both promises didn’t materialize. DITO failed to hit its deadline, ending up with only 300 live cell sites out of what it promised. In effect, it cannot provide Internet connectivity, which is now more crucial amid the COVID-19 crisis. Missing its targets, DITO asked the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to move its technical audit by January 2021. Coincidentally, that falls right after the December deadline Duterte gave to other telcos.

Despite the delays, DITO Telecommunity is still confident that it can officially launch in March 2021. Seemingly, President Duterte is as confident as DITO that the third telco can meet its deadline. But considering the fact that it already missed two, can DITO really catch up?

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