NTC issues show-cause order vs 3 telcos over SMS fees

By Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 13 2011 05:36 PM | Updated as of Dec 14 2011 01:36 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The National Telecommunications Commission on Tuesday served the show-cause order against telecommunications companies Sun, Globe and Smart for defying its order to lower the charge for short messaging service (SMS).

The NTC also ordered the telcos to preserve their data log from December 1 to allow the Commission to determine how many regular text messages were sent.

Telcos were given 15 days to respond. The first hearing is set for January 15, 2012.

NTC director Edgardo Cabarios said the issue of a refund will also be discussed during the hearing. 

Roughly, there are 2 billion text messages sent daily in the country, of which some 3% to 4% are regular P1 text.

If computed from December 1, the telcos would have earned an estimated P16 million/day for the additional P0.20 on the P1 text charge or a whopping P224 million for 2 weeks.

But Cabarios clarified that these are just estimates and the commission will eventually determine if there is a need for a refund.

The NTC has been receiving numerous complaints regarding the non-compliance of the telcos to bring down the price of regular text from P1 to P0.80. 

However, Atty. Froilan Castelo, Globe Telecom head of corporate and legal services group, on Monday said that Globe has complied with the NTC regulation on reduction of SMS access charges.

"We maintain that Globe has complied with the NTC regulation on reduction of SMS access charges. Accordingly, Globe has amended its interconnection agreements with other carriers to this effect. SMS is a deregulated service and as such, carriers are authorized under the rules to set competitive pricing which resulted in the continuous lowering of its price in the market," Castelo said.

"Bill shock"

Meanwhile, the NTC has issued an advisory for subscribers who plan to go abroad for the holidays to be careful about "bill shock" when they get their bills afterwards.

NTC advised consumers to be aware of the rates and conditions of access to data roaming services. Rates are usually higher when the subscriber is abroad.

IT expert Jerry Liao advised consumers to turn their data roaming off if they don't want additional charges, or to call their service provider.

Liao said the new phones with internet access usually have prompt messages that warn users of additional charge when using data roaming.