Court OKs cheaper cell phone billing plan

By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 02 2012 06:46 AM | Updated as of Feb 02 2012 06:32 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Cell phone subscribers can expect savings as they will not be charged for a full minute on calls that last less than that.

The Court of Appeals (CA) has paved the way for the much-delayed implementation of a plan by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to adopt a six-second per pulse billing system that will allow mobile phone subscribers to be charged on a per-six-second pulse instead of a per-minute basis.

Last Jan. 19, the former Special 11th Division of the CA issued a resolution in favor of the NTC. The ruling found merit in the NTC’s contention that with the implementation of the new billing scheme, the average subscribers will realize huge savings.

On the cellular mobile telephone service (CMTS) providers’ insistence on their use of prefix dialing to implement the six-second-per-pulse billing, the CA said the same contravenes the mandatory nature of the provision of NTC Memorandum Circular no. 05-07-2009.

“To allow petitioners to require its subscribers to resort to prefix dialing before the latter may avail of the six-second-per pulse billing regime destroys the mandatory nature of such billing regime and converts the same into a mere option in the same way that the one-minute-per-pulse billing regime and the petitioners’ unlimited service offerings are optional on the part of petitioners’ subscribers,” the appellate court said.

It added that it shares the NTC’s view that while the conversion of the present system of billing might entail some degree of inconvenience, technical adjustment and expenditures on the part of petitioners, the business and operations of petitioners must give way to public interest.

On July 23, 2009, the NTC issued MC 05-07-2009, which, among others, imposed a six-second-per-pulse unit of billing for CMTS providers.