Press Release
March 10, 2021


Today, we will tackle the franchise application of three telcos and 13 broadcast companies. The three telco franchises include Dito Telecommunity Corp. and Instant Data, which we initially heard last December, and Transpacific Broadband Group International. As for the 13 broadcast franchises, we have Blockbuster Broadcasting, Tagbilaran Broadcasting, City Government of Davao, University of the Philippines System, Rolin Broadcasting, Servotron Industries, Christian Music Power, Good News Sorsogon Foundation, Allied Broadcasting Center, Palawan Broadcasting Corp., St. Jude Thaddeus Institute of Technology, Baycomms Broadcasting Corp., and Highland Broadcasting Network.

There are a lot of franchises to be tackled today so that we can efficiently go through this hearing in the most reasonable time and finish our concerns today. I will begin first with the broadcast companies because I anticipate the senators will have more questions.

For Dito and Instant Data, you are given another opportunity to prove yourself worthy of a franchise or an extension of a franchise. We expect no less from you with regard to your commitments during the previous hearing.

For Dito, first, you supposedly commenced commercial activities two days ago. We would like to know what services were offered, their rates, and how many people signed up or subscribed to Dito's services as of today.

While we are happy to hear the good connection reported by users on your first day, we also received reports on phone compatibility issues and other weird mechanics like needing to buy a compatible phone to be able to use Dito SIM immediately. And if not, the user has to wait a few days to be able to acquire a SIM card. Users also noted the lack of publicity and marketing on important information about the launch...

We also want to be clarified as to how Dito determined the areas for the initial rollout, supposedly to serve the underserved in Mindanao as per media advisories. But are the initial 15 areas in Metro Cebu and Metro Davao still unserved and underserved areas? Also do these areas sufficiently meet the 37-percent population coverage commitment? When will Dito service actually reach the 37-percent coverage?

Second, we seek explanations to some matters relating to the procedure and results of the independent audit report. Why is it that only 12 percent of the sample was audited? Is this a global standard? How did you arrive at this rate and is this approved or recommended by the NTC? It is also important to know if the findings will be consistent once subscribers start using the network. We have invited representatives from R.G. Manabat & Co., the group who conducted the independent audit, to enlighten us more about their report.

Third, we also want to know Dito's preparation for year 2 rollout, as the second audit on July 8, 2021 is fast approaching. What has been accomplished and what do we expect from Dito in the coming months?

Dito was granted the third player status because it was evaluated as capable of competing with the two other major players. And while we understand birthing pains, we are also looking for marked improvement from the status quo by the present telcos.

For Instant Data, we hope you are properly represented this time by someone who can actually speak for your company and is knowledgeable about your company and the services it can offer.

Allow me to reiterate that the grant of a franchise is not a right, but a privilege. New franchise applicants must establish that there is a public need for the service they propose to deliver and the means to adequately provide it. To those for renewal, treat the franchise not only as a privilege but as a checklist of your obligations and commitments to the public.

We have invited government regulators and stakeholders to determine faithful compliance with the duties and deliverables attached as conditions for the enjoyment of franchises. As I previously said, 'Serbisyo muna bago prangkisa.'

While we welcome the coming of more players in the telco and broadcast industry, we want to make sure that all applicants are fit to offer their avowed public service so as to encourage competition, drive companies to provide better service, and meet end-user expectations.

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