Rep. Casiño urges NTC to sanction telcos

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/06 November) — Telecommunications companies found guilty of “nakaw (stealing) load” or disappearing prepaid credits and not following orders by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) should be sanctioned, a progressive solon said Monday.

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño said he has filed House Bill No. 5653, An Act Promoting the Rights of Mobile Phone Subscribers, to address these complaints against telecommunications companies.

Some Davaoenos have been complaining they encountered nakaw load, dropped calls and contested billings in using their mobile phones.

An industry analyst bared that on the average, a prepaid subscriber would lose a minimum of P10 a day of credits.

Multiplied by a fifth (or about 14 million) of prepaid market leader SMART’s total subscribers’ base of about 67 million, the total prepaid load loss is a staggering P140 million per day, the same source added.

Casiño said, the House committee on information and communications technology is yet to schedule a hearing on the bill.

“This only shows how powerful telecommunications companies are, but we’re not giving up,” he said.

Filipinos might have a good Christmas gift should HB 5653 be approved at the committee level before the December break, he added.

HB 5653 aims to address subscribers’ complaints against “nakaw load” and other problems encountered by mobile phone users.

Casiño said the bill intends to require the NTC to regulate prices, which means any proposed increase should undergo hearings.

It also requires telecommunications companies to provide detailed billings of prepaid credits, number portability, 60-second billing in call charges, and improvements of other services, he said.

Casiño hit the NTC for its failure to enforce its own order, citing Memorandum Circular No.  02-10-2011 issued on Oct. 24, 2011, ordering these companies to cut by 20 centavos in interconnection charge for short messaging service (SMS) from the existing 35 centavos per SMS.

The order was supposed to be implemented starting December last year, but neither of the two companies has complied, he noted.

As of September this year, Casino said, both companies had overcharged their subscribers by a total of P6 billion based on an estimated interconnection charges since December 1, 2011, the day the NTC order was supposed to take effect.

“This is a case of a duly authorized government agency (the NTC) that refuses to exercise its mandate to enforce regulation and impose sanctions on the telcos for bad services. What the people need is not benchmark test technocratese but quick action by the government regulator,” he stressed.

“The NTC must come out with practical solutions and sanctions to impose on telcos so that subscribers will get their hard-earned
money’s worth. Otherwise, the NTC is a toothless agency while Globe and Smart executives laugh daily all the way to the back with millions of profits earned from poor services to its subscribers,” the lawmaker said.

He said the bill is a response to the failure of the NTC to protect the public interests and penalize telecommunications companies for not following its orders. (Lorie Ann Cascaro/MindaNews)