Lack of undersea cable may undermine Dito telco's internet speed, rollout

Without an undersea cable connecting the United States to Hong Kong and other Asian countries, the promised internet speed set to be offered by the Dito Telecommunity-China Telecom partnership and its rollout dates may be compromised, a University of the Philippines technology professor said.

Prof. Glen Imbang of the UP-Technology Management Center said if Dito fails to put in place possible backup plans for the junking of the US-Hong Kong submarine cable project over the rising American-Chinese tensions, the telecom firm might not be able to deliver on its promised connectivity speeds.

Dito, a 60-40 partnership of the Dennis Uy-led Udenna consortium and state-owned China Telecom, last week gained congressional approval for a 25-year franchise, putting it one step closer to fully compete with the PLDT-Globe telecom duopoly.

But Google and Facebook last week dropped plans for the undersea cable after the Trump administration said Beijing might use the link to collect information on Americans, leaving Dito with two viable but very costly options, the UP professor said.

“Build its own undersea cable or go into rocket science or satellite for the data transmission,” said Imbang, who explained that using satellite feeds for internet connectivity is extremely costly.

The undersea cable could push through, however, as the US tech titans quickly submitted a revised proposal that includes links to Taiwan and the Philippines, as envisioned in the application that was withdrawn on Thursday (Aug. 27), Bloomberg reported.

The new filing did not include HK-based Pacific Light Data Communication, a partner in the original plan and a concern for US security agencies that cited its links to mainland China's Dr Peng Telecom & Media Group, Bloomberg noted.

Imbang said if Dito opts to build its own submarine cable, its rollout timeline would be imperiled since it will take a minimum of five years to develop an international undersea cable link.

Dito had promised early on to provide internet access to at least a third of the country’s 100 million population at a minimum speed of 27 megabits (Mbps). It was scheduled to start its rollout last July 8, but the coronavirus pandemic has given the third local telco a reprieve.

This developed as residents of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Officers Village, mostly retired and active military personnel, in Taguig City strongly opposed Dito’s reported plan to erect around twenty 5G cell towers in their community, citing health and cybersecurity issues.

“Our village is a community of former military officers, and our place is also very near to the headquarters of the Army, Navy and Air Force and about 40 residents in our place are holding key government positions,” an online petition signed by 135 AFPOVAI residents said.

Topics: Dito Telecommunity , , China Telecom , Glen Imbang , Dennis Uy
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