PLDT-Philcom upgrade in Bukidnon loses interconnection with Sotelco

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 19 Sept) – The PLDT-Philippine Global Communication (Philcom) and the Southern Telecommunication Company (Sotelco), the two landline telephone companies operating in Bukidnon, are no longer interconnected as of the second week of August.

Bobet Parrado, PLDT-Philcom Malaybalay business center office in-charge, said the disconnection is due to his company’s migration to new equipment. He cited the incompatibility of his firm’s new main switch and the device used in interconnection.

Republic Act 7925 or the Public Telecommunications Act of 1995 mandates the National Telecommunication Commission to ensure “fair and reasonable interconnection of facilities of authorized public network operators” and other providers of telecommunications services through appropriate modes of interconnection and at a reasonable and fair level of charges.

The interconnection policy was meant to promote telephone density and provide the “most extensive access to basic telecommunications services available at affordable rates to the public.”

Sotelco service areas include the cities of Malaybalay and Valencia, and the municipalities of Don Carlos, Quezon and Damilag-Manolo Fortich; PhilCom, on the other hand, also has service areas in Malaybalay and Valencia and in the municipality of Manolo Fortich.

PLDT bought Philcom in 2009.

Parrado said the disconnection is only temporary but they have not set the time when it will be fixed.

“Engineering work is ongoing to address the problem,” he told MindaNews via telephone Wednesday.

He said PLDT Manila, which is facilitating the migration to new equipment, has not provided the local business office of the timetable to complete it.

But the disrupted interconnectivity drew criticism.

“It affects cost of doing business in the province,” Rommel Patcheo, marketing head of the church-run DXDB Radyo Bandilyo and Bandilyo newspaper based here.

He said the telcos should find ways to restore it soonest.

Patcheo said accessibility of the telephone subscribers of both firms is also affected.

Valencia City councilor Oliver Owen Garcia told this reporter via SMS that all public utilities, including telephone companies, are given franchises on condition that they give convenience to the public in terms of service.

“(What they did) is not an action that will provide convenience to the public. Clearly they have violated their franchise,” he added.

Garcia was recently elected as the new president of the Philippine Councilors League Bukidnon chapter, which has a seat as ex-officio member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Sotelco pioneered the telephone industry in Bukidnon in 1985 when the provincial government privatized the Bukidnon Telephone Services, which it ran since the 1960s.

The firm has operated in the province and also extended services to northern Cebu and in Albay, Bicol. Extending further to serve the calling public, calling offices were set up in strategic locations in its areas of operation covering Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro City, Cebu and Albay.

Philcom opened its Malaybalay phone exchange in the late 1990s, serving as the firm’s competitor up to present.