MANILA - Inefficient cellular phone networks may be prohibited from having more subscribers if they fail to step up in the later part of this year, according to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba told the Senate finance committee on Tuesday that the agency is studying the possibility of penalizing networks that fail to comply with standards.
"If they do not perform at par with the quality of service mandated by the commission … hindi sila puwedeng kumuha ng additional subscribers haggang mapaganda ang kanilang grade of service," he said during the hearing on the NTC's proposed subsidy of P259.38 million under the 2013 national budget.
Cordoba added that the measure would help ease network congestion, which the agency blames on the huge number of customers availing themselves of unlimited calls and text message services.
Director Edgardo Cabarios said the NTC will base the penalty on the results of their monitoring of cellular networks for the 3rd quarter of 2012, which will be released at the end of September.
He said the NTC is studying the matter carefully, considering the possible economic consequences of prohibiting networks from getting more subscribers.
"Baka naman by this 3rd quarter of 4th quarter, mag-improve na ang kanilang network at ma-solve ang congestion," Cabarios told reporters.
Based on the NTC's standards, blocked calls or calls that could not get through must not exceed 4 times out of 100. Dropped calls, on the other hand, must be below 2 out of 100 times.
In the NTC's 2nd quarter report, Globe had a blocked call rate of 4.45 percent, while Smart had 9.95 percent. In terms of dropped calls, both networks met the standard: Globe and Smart only had 1.6 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.
Cabarios said the NTC has a monitoring device, which is used to validate complaints from customers.
If the NTC manages to prohibit an inefficient network from having more subscribers, it would be its first time to do so.
Senate finance committee chairman Franklin Drilon, who expressed his frustration at poor cellular network services, was not very hopeful about it.
"I'll be clapping my hands if you're able to do that. To be honest with you, I'm very pessimistic on whether you can impose that rule on telecom companies," he said. "The service sucks, as the young would call it. The consumers suffer. In my view, there appears to be no regulation at all for the benefit of the public, given the kind of service that we are getting from these companies."
Cordoba explainted, however, that telecom companies are currently upgrading their networks. He said Smart has finished upgrading, while Globe is expected to complete its upgrade on the 1st quarter of 2013.