Democracy.net.ph is questioning DITO Telecom’s choice of launching its services in rural areas that don’t own smartphones, as well as phone compatibility as it relates to their network infrastructure. The questions about phone compatibility are valid since a large chunk of the rural population still uses feature phones and devices that use 2G and 3G technologies.
Based on the group’s findings, a high percentage of Filipinos still use mobile phones that run on 2G networks or make use of less advanced systems. “The feature phone market in the Philippines is still very high, especially used by classes D and E, or our kababayans that run on 2G frequency. I’m surprised Dito Telecommunity restricted their list [of compatible phones],” said Pierre Galla, engineer, and co-founder of Democracy.net.ph.
After passing their first technical audit, DITO proceeded with its commercial launch in March where only a small number of smartphones were compatible with its network services.
Galla adds that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) allowed the sampling of a smaller number of villages, just 2,671 instead of 8,800 villages, to determine if the telco could meet its first-year commitments. These field tests covered only 200 cell sites out of DITO’s 1,602 active sites. The group recommends that a sampling method should not be applied for its next audit.
This prompted Sen. Ana Theresia Hontiveros to demand that NTC respond to the reported deficiencies in DITO’s audit. “The NTC should answer the questions raised by advocacy groups regarding its technical audit of DITO. If the agency will not be able to do so, it will only add to the public’s suspicion that it may be at the behest of the China-backed third telco,” the senator said.
DITO Telecommunity, formerly known as Mindanao Islamic Telephone Co. will undergo a second audit in July 2021. Hopefully, by then DITO will no longer have phone compatibility issues. It is expected to cover 84 percent of the population in five years.