NTC orders shift to per-pulse rate on mobile calls

By Michelle Orosa, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 23 2009 06:24 PM | Updated as of Jul 24 2009 02:59 AM

MANILA - The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Thursday issued new rules on billing cellular voice calls, requiring mobile phone firms to shift to per-pulse from per-minute charging.

Under NTC memorandum circular 05-07-2009, the maximum unit of billing for the cellular mobile telephone service (CMTS)--whether postpaid or prepaid--will be reduced to 6 seconds per pulse from the current one minute per pulse.

There will be a flag down rate for the first 2 pulses or the first 12 seconds of the call. The rate for the first 2 minimum pulses may be higher than the succeeding pulses to recover the cost of the call setup, NTC said.

The first few seconds of a call are usually more costly as this is the time when the call is being connected to the network of the person to be contacted. Given this, the NTC said phone firms may propose rates to be adopted for the first 2 pulses as well as the succeeding ones.

"The CMTS providers shall submit to the commission their respective proposed rates based on the herein prescribed unit of billing within 30 days from the effectivity of this circular," the NTC said.

The ruling will take effect 15 days after it has been published in major dailies, with phone firms required to comply within 120 days.

Even with the new rule, the NTC said phone users may still opt to be billed in a one minute per pulse rate (P6.50 per minute), or to subscribe to unlimited service offerings. International call services, however, will not be covered.

The NTC has already issued Memorandum Circulars on extending prepaid load validity and banning the spread of unsolicited messages last month. Two more circulars are expected to be issued soon, which includes the grouping of promotional price schemes and the imposition of new rules governing the access charge between mobile phone firms and content providers.