Telcos finally agree to cut SMS fees, says NTC

By Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 07 2011 04:55 PM | Updated as of Dec 08 2011 03:21 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The reduction in text messaging charges is set to be implemented by telecommunications companies by next week at the latest, according to a National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) official.

NTC director Edgardo Cabarios said the telcos have agreed with the Commission's interpretation of its directive in reducing the interconnection charges from P0.35 to P0.15 per message. He said the lower SMS fees will be implemented either Friday or next week.

The NTC earlier insisted that the P 0.20 reduction in interconnection charges should result in Smart Communications Inc., Globe Telecom Inc. and Sun Cellular lowering their regular text rates to P0.80 from the current P1.

However, telcos refused to heed the NTC directive, insisting that based on promos and bucket offerings, the average text rate is already around P0.10 per message, way below the P0.80 rate being asked by the NTC.

But the NTC countered that the order does not refer to promo or bucket pricing, but regular text message fees which is still P1 per message.

According to NTC data, around 93% of the total cellphone users in the Philippines, or roughly 88 million,  are prepaid users who are availing of various promos.

Only 3% are postpaid users, while the remaining 4% are prepaid users who do not avail of any promo.

The NTC said the order will benefit some 3.5 million prepaid users who do not avail of the promos.