Philippines operator Dito ‘threatened by US China Telecom ban’
The viability of Dito, the new mobile competitor in the Philippines, is threatened by the US decision to ban China Telecom, says one of the country’s leading politicians.
France Castro (pictured), who is now the assistant minority (opposition) leader in the country’s House of Representatives, says that action by the US regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), against China Telecom may affect its international partners and customers.
Castro, a leading political activist for democracy and workers’ rights, explained that the termination of China Telecom’s operations in the US may prevent Dito from interconnecting to the US.
She said the move will affect the ability of its partners and affiliates around the world to operate and serve its customers effectively, given the tightening restrictions against China Telecom.
Dito said in 2020 that China Telecom will be its international connectivity provider.
Castro warned that services that might be affected by the loss of China Telecom’s licence to operate in the US included roaming services for Filipino subscribers who need to make calls or send messages while overseas. Calls from Filipinos to their families or contacts in the US through Dito may also be hindered, she said.
The licence cancelled by the FCC included the right to operate in all US territory, including its islands in the Pacific.
China Telecom is a significant shareholder in Dito Telecommunity, with 40% of the company, which started operation in March 2021 as the third mobile operator in the Philippines, competing with Globe Telecom and PLDT.
It’s four years since Rodrigo Duterte president of the Philippines met Li Keqiang, premier of the State Council of China – effectively prime minister – to call for Chinese involvement in a third mobile operator.
Dito, which won the role in 2019, is now a joint venture between China Telecom and a Philippines company, Udenna.
However, in October 2021 Jessica Rosenworcel, chairwoman of the FCC, put into effect a US government decision to cancel China Telecom’s licence to operate in US territory. China Telecom lost an appeal against the decision two weeks ago, when a US court said it must stop operations by early January 2022.
The FCC said that China Telecom “is subject to exploitation, influence, and control by the Chinese government”. Such control may allow China “to access, store, disrupt, and/or misroute US communications”.
Philippine politicians belonging to the House Committee on Information and Communications Technology are also monitoring the FCC order against China Telecom, given the Philippines’ own national security concerns about China.