NTC’s next target: cheaper text, internet rates

MANILA — The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) is looking at slashing the rate of short message service (SMS) and Internet cost next following the decision of Globe Telecom Incorporated and PLDT Incorporated to reduce their interconnection charges for voice calls.

NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said lowering voice call rates is just the first step of a string of reforms eyed by the regulatory body to give subscribers an efficient way of communication at the lowest possible rates.

“This is just the first step. It wouldn’t stop with voice. It will continue with text, Internet. We will lower the prices,” said Cordoba after Globe and PLDT agreed to cut down interconnection charges by Jan. 1, 2017 through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Nov. 28.

Cordoba said affording the public cheap but high quality way of communication is the thrust of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, noting that 50 percent of the market still relies on conventional calls.

“These are the people in the provinces, especially the lower income families. They are the ones using voice calls,” he noted.

“The telcos right now, they can use the lower interconnection rates to give different promos, pocket pricing and unlimited calls; they may be crossed over from one network to another,” Cordoba explained.

The NTC recently issued Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 09-11-2016 on Interconnection Charge for Voice Service, which directs that interconnection rates among telcos’ voice services shall no longer be higher than PHP2.50 per minute from the previous PHP4 per minute charge.

The interconnection charges are also subject to an annual review by the NTC.

NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios said “effectively the retail rates should be dropped by PHP1 across all plans” following the agreement signed by the telcos.

Cabarios explained that with the lower interconnection charges, the current retail rates of PHP6.50 per minute for mobile calls and PHP7.50 per minute for mobile to landline calls are expected to drop to PHP5.50 and PHP6.50, respectively.

The NTC said the new reduced interconnection charges shall be effective not later than January 1, 2017 to give sufficient time for the necessary adjustment in the operators’ respective billing system. PNA-northboundasia.com