Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company (Mislatel), the joint venture of Filipino businessman Dennis Uy and China Telecom which has been anointed the Philippines’ New Major Player (NMP) or third telco, says it is committed to matching the coverage of the de facto duopoly – PLDT Inc. (incl. Smart Communications) and Globe Telecom – within three years. Acting Secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Eliseo M. Rio Jr. told the Senate Committee on Public Services this week that Mislatel has pledged to cover 37% of the country in its first year, 70% by year three and that by the end of its fifth year in operation will have expanded its footprint to 84% of the population. ‘Globe and Smart, now in their 20 years of operations, up to now they only covered up to 70% of the country,’ Rio told the Committee, noting too that the ambitious newcomer has also ‘promised to deliver internet speed of 27Mbps in its first year’, with Mislatel spokesperson Adel Tamano adding: ‘We are not burdened by obsolete technology. We will be bringing in new tech, latest, most innovative technology. In fact, we are looking to bring in 5G’.
Whilst the NMP’s promise of putting up 1,000 cell sits in just twelve months is considered ‘laudable’, ABS-CBN News cites local industry watchers – such as University of the Philippines professor and former Smart executive Rogelio Quevedo – as suggesting that achieving the rollout schedule is ‘highly doubtful’. With cell site construction often mired in red tape over local and residential permits in highly populated areas, Quevedo points out that it can take up to nine months for a site to come online. ‘Maybe I can believe that you can put up 200 cell sites in one year, but with due respect I highly doubt that you can put up 1,000 cell sites,’ he is quoted as saying.