Casiño: NTC should have more political will in going after telcos

AS THE National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) threatens telecommunications companies that the agency may stop them from taking in new subscribers if their services fail to become satisfactory partylist Rep. Teddy Casiño (Bayan Muna) said that this should be backed with more political will.

According to the progressive lawmaker “as it is mobile phone companies still owe their subscribers approximately P6 billion from failing to lower interconnection charges as ordered by the NTC last November. Casiño also urged the House of Representatives to immediately pass House Bill 5653 or the Mobile Phone Subcribers bill to protect the rights of mobile phone subscribers.

Casiño said that “The NTC should just stop posturing and couple its words with action, because up to now the telcos are defying the agency. Among the numerous instances where these telecommunication service providers (telcos) defied NTC was when they refused to implement a 20-centavos deduction on interconnection charges for SMS (text messages) which the NTC ordered effective on November 30, 2011.”

House Bill No. 5653 seeks to promote the rights of mobile phone subscribers by regulating prices, requiring telecommunications service companies to provide detailed billing of both prepaid credits and postpaid consumption, number portability, lowered pulse rate and other service improvements for the benefit of our consuming public.

“The true costs of mobile phone services are hidden in the untransparent pricing of Smart and Globe, which enables them to impose onerous charges. Prepaid subscribers often are left blind as to how their credits were consumed, if they were indeed consumed at all prior to the load expiration, which in itself is a dubious practice. Postpaid subscribers meanwhile bewail a lack of transparency on the charges, now it seems that even dropped calls are levied against them. These issues among others have to be addressed and it has to be done now,” he added.

“To date the estimate is approximately P6 billion have yet to be refunded by the telcos to their subscribers due to unauthorized text charges. This data is extrapolated from the latest financial reports provided by the telcos themselves reveal a gross income of at least P200 million per day from text messaging services. Assuming half of the text messages are between telcos and subject to interconnection fees, the 20-centavo reduction in said fees would mean the telcos have been overcharging their consumers by P20 million per day, or a total of about P6 billion for the 10 months that the NTC order remains unimplemented,” said the progressive solon.

“This is a conservative estimate considering the fact that as text capital of the world, some 1.5 to 1.8 billion text messages a day are sent in the Philippines. In some of our computations, the overprice even reached five times this amount,” Casiño said.

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