Pandemic, typhoons, volcano – no stopping DITO’s record greenfield rollout

DITO greenfield ZTE
Man working to clear river of debris from eruption of Mount Mayon in the Philippines. Image by donsimon | Bigstockphoto

A greenfield telco is something that CTOs dream about. It recently became a reality in the Philippines as a new telco, DITO Telecommunity, went from drawing board to launch in 18 months. This against the backdrop of remote working due to the pandemic, typhoons and the small matter of a volcano erupting in one of the rollout areas.

DITO, which means ‘We Are Here’ was authorised in July 2019 because there was deemed to be a lack of competition in the Philippines. As attorney Adel Tamano, Chief Administration Officer, says, “while we definitely wanted to revolutionise telecoms in the region, the fact is that competition brings better prices, better services and a better community. We also brought jobs and investment at a very hard time for many people. At 257 billion pesos ($5.12 billion), it was the biggest project of its kind, and many people said it was impossible. But, with the team we put together, we achieved it in 18 months.”

A key player in the DITO team was ZTE. For DITO’s CTO, retired Major General Rodolfo Santiago, the choice was not difficult. 

“We had committed to 55mbps through to year five, and we knew that 4G would not be up to that. We also knew that ZTE is at the forefront of 5G and fibre optic development, which is why we chose them, and we will work with them through to the finish.” ZTE, with 30 years of telco experience across 100 countries were able to put together a global team to develop the strategy and provide the resources.

Shen Hui, VP and General Manager of Engineering Service in Asia Pacific & CIS Region at ZTE, outlined that his company was not only responsible for the end-to-end turnkey construction of the mobile network, it also completed the construction of thousands of kilometres of optical cables, the construction of dozens of convergent data centres and the deployment of nearly a thousand sites. He added a special thank you to the local employees who were able to help deliver for DITO, an ambitious project by anyone’s standards, against a backdrop of COVID 19 restrictions and an erupting volcano, which is still causing problems.

As far as greenfield telco stories go, it was (and still is) an ambitious project and DITO, the new Telecommunity for the Philippines, has shown what an experienced team can achieve. See the full interview here….

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