This article was authored by Dylan Bushell-Embling, and was originally posted on telecomasia.net.
Mislatel, the consortium selected to become the Philippines' third mobile operator, has pledged to cover 70% of the population within three years of operation.
The consortium between China Telecom and businesses owned by local tycoon Dennis Uy, was officially named the market's third major player earlier this month after submitting the only qualified bid in the selection process.
During testimony to the Senate Committee on Public Services, acting information and communications technology secretary Eliseo Rio said Mislatel plans to cover 37% of the country in its first year, ABS-CBN News reported.
This will be expanded to 70% within three years and up to 84% by its fifth year of operation, Rio said incumbent mobile operators Globe and PLDT's Smart only cover around 70% of the country after 20 years of operations.
Mislatel has pledged to deploy 1,000 towers within 12 months, but experts have cast doubt on whether this is an achievable goal. Under the terms of the selection process, Mislatel faces the revocation of its license if it fails to deliver on its commitments.
Meanwhile Mislatel will be required to conduct a cybersecurity audit within 90 days of securing the third telco slot in order to ensure the government it poses no national security risk, ABS-CBN separately reported.
Some politicians have expressed concerns that the China link may represent a national security threat. But Rio noted that incumbent operators have been using Chinese networking equipment for a long time, and were previously required to commission third-party security audits based on their use of equipment from Huawei, with no risks found.
Mislatel will be required to conduct the same audit so the government can assure the public that he operator is cybersecurity compliant.