NTC to telcos: Cut SMS rates, refund customers

The regulator denied the motions for reconsideration filed by mobile phone companies

MANILA, Philippines – The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Wednesday, May 7 directed mobile phone companies to roll back text messaging rates and refund subscribers for excess charges over the last 2 years.

The companies are expected to question the NTC decision in court.

The regulator issued separate orders denying the motions for reconsideration filed by Globe Telecom Inc., Smart Communications Inc. and Digitel Mobile Philippines Inc. that sought to reverse a December 2011 NTC order for a cut in SMS (short messaging system) rates to P0.80 from P1.

Globe is a unit of Ayala Corporation. Smart and Digitel are subsidiaries of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT).

Engr. Edgardo Cabarios, NTC director for the Common Carriers Authorization Department, said the NTC decision would cost the companies “billions of pesos.” He said an average of 2 billion text messages are sent by cellular phone subscribers every day.

He also said that the companies could take the matter before the Court of Appeals.

In its orders, the NTC ruled that “the commission finds no compelling reason to disturb its previous order, which clearly explained the basis for this ruling.”

The orders were signed by NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba as well as Deputy Commissioners Carlo Jose Martinez and Delilah Deles.

The NTC circular that took effect in December 2011 ordered the reduction in text interconnection charges to P0.15 from P0.35 in an effort to make text messaging more affordable for the public. This should have lowered SMS rates to P0.80 from P1.

The companies were directed to reimburse their subscribers the excess charge of P0.20 per text message sent from one network to another.

Globe and PLDT said they would study the order.

“The company will evaluate the legal merits of the said resolution with due consideration for the interest of its subscribers,” said Globe in a statement.

“We have not received a copy of the decision but we will issue a statement after we have studied it,” PLDT Group spokesperson Ramon Isberto said in a text message.

The PLDT Group’s cellular subscriber base stood at 70.5 million as of March, consisting of 25.9 million Smart subscribers, 29.5 million Talk ‘N Text, and 15.1 million Sun.

On the other hand, Globe’s cellular subscribers totaled 38.1 million as of end last year. – Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.