SEN. Grace Poe challenged Dito Telecommunity Corp. to provide services in unserved and underserved remote areas in the country.
“By strategically fulfilling its commitment to meet the said number of barangays mostly in the NCR area where it’s the easiest way to go about it, Dito is literally giving us the bare minimum of what it committed to do,” explained Poe.
Poe, chairperson of the Senate public services committee, earlier enumerated the commitments Dito made to the government that will serve as a basis of its franchise renewal which will expire in 2023. These include their ability to provide a minimum standard of 27 mbps speed for internet connection on its first year; and should cover 37 percent of the population.
“So after they show that they are able to honor their commitments and provide for all of those, then that will be a basis for us to determine if they’re really eligible for another 25 years,” she said.
“Dito will actually do a test run and said they were able to cover thousands of barangays, so we would actually want to go to one of those barangays and see if there’s been a marked improvement in their connection,” said Poe.
“We can always see the numbers, but unless you’re actually the end user and experience how it performs, you can’t really vouch for it,” added Poe.
At the last Senate hearing, Poe questioned Dito for rolling out services mainly in the NCR instead of barangays in unserved and underserved areas.
Senators have also raised concerns on Dito’s partnership with China Telecoms, especially on account of China’s law requiring all its subjects to report to the Chinese government any information it asks of them.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros said that under Chinese law, a Chinese corporation is obliged to cooperate in intelligence-gathering efforts.
Hontiveros has also expressed alarm on CreatorTech’s new study which reveals, among others, that that “ChinaTel reports directly to the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and that ChinaTel had close ties with China’s Armed Forces.”
“Time and again, I have raised concerns regarding China-owned Dito telco’s intrusion in the country. The revelations in CreatorTech’s new study are not surprising, given that many of our own experts have already flagged national security issues,” she stressed.
Hontiveros said she has repeatedly warned that “ChinaTel, which has a 40% stake in Dito, is 100% owned by the People’s Republic of China” and that “CreatorTech also thought it necessary to articulate” this warning.
Hontiveros’ warnings was based on a telecommunications study released last month by Creator Tech, an ASIA Pacific consulting firm based in Australia.
The study titled, “A Study Into The Proposed New Telecommunications Operator In The Philippines: Critical Success Factors and Likely Risks,” raised serious concern on national security and on the selection and impending operation of Dito Telecommunity-China Telecom as the country’s third telco player.
When it won the bidding to be the country’s third telco in 2018, Dito, formerly Mislatel, submitted a form that includes a list of 7,425 barangays it has committed to serve in its first year of application.
“We are very excited for a third telco to come in, but we are here to safeguard the commitments it made to the government for the benefit of our people,” said Poe.
Senators earlier fought for the national broadband budget to be increased from P900 million to P5.9 billion in order to cover more areas that lack access to reliable internet. With this amount, DICT has committed to provide a national broadband backbone for areas like the NCR, Cebu, Davao, and even Palawan and Aurora.