DITO to deploy satellite technology

DITO Telecommunity aims to roll out satellite technology to reach underserved and unserved areas where infrastructure-building is challenging or impractical.

Rodolfo Santiago, DITO chief technology officer, said in an online briefing on Thursday the company was already talking with potential satellite service providers to realize this goal.

He stressed that satellite technology was “part of the solution” to ensure that connectivity would be strengthened across the country, especially in island municipalities and mountainous areas.

“We would not disclose yet until we sign something with them,” he said.

Expanding coverage

This came after the National Telecommunications Commission announced the approval of Elon Musk’s Starlink Internet Services Philippines Inc.’s registration as an internet service provider last month. Recently, Luxembourg-based connectivity solutions firm SES and local technology startup Quicksilver Satcom Ventures expressed interest to provide satellite services in the country as well.

Along with this, Rodolfo said they were looking at building 7,000 to 7,500 towers to achieve 80 percent population coverage by the middle of 2023. DITO currently has 550 towers.

The company, a partnership between the group of Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy and China Telecommunications, is also in talks with local government units to increase its footprint in more areas. It has a presence now in over 600 cities and municipalities.

Adel Tamano, DITO chief administrative officer, said that the third telecommunication player had reached 10.3 million subscribers as of July—a big jump from just 1 million a year ago.

“We are really slowly getting the marketing share. I think, DITO is starting from a crawl to a walk to a run,” Tamano said.

Challenging the duopoly

Recently, DITO expressed optimism that it would grab more market share after being recognized by global monitoring firm Ookla for breaking the long-standing telecom duopoly in the country.

“We are confident that DITO can go head-to-head with the other two major players as penetrating more areas means we capture more share in the market,” Tamano said.

Meanwhile, Ookla also recognized DITO for having the “best 4G availability” in the first quarter at 91.2 percent.

Tamano attributed this to the telco firm’s continued network rollout and partnership with regulators and local government.

This year, DITO is set to spend P50 billion to make its services available in over 840 areas across the country. A higher capital expenditure is expected next year for its continued expansion plans.

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