In a bid to roll down interconnection charges pegged by all telecommunication companies to 85 million mobile phone users, Rep. Winston “Winnie” Castelo of Quezon City today filed House Bill No. 4939.
The QC solon bats for lower interconnection charges in the context that prevailing calling or texting rates within and across networks are one of the highest in the Asia Pacific Region. In his proposal, Castelo wants the prevailing P4 per minute of voice call be reduced to as low as P1, the text message reduced by half, and landline charge from P2 to P1. This way, the millions of subscribers and patrons of various telecom companies or networks will derive more value for their money.
‘With consumers saving P3 for voice calls and when text messages or landline charges are reduced by half as much, I think that subscribers and patrons will experience unrestricted access and in a substantial way, empower them with unlimited calls, texts and even internet. It shall be a welcome development in mobile communication and information in the country”, Castelo pointed out.
“The lives of tens of millions of the Filipino people have long been affected by some kind of predatory pricing in the telecommunication industry due to the almost monopolistic practices by leading telecom giants to the detriment of new emerging and minor players. Note here that not only the 85 million consumers will benefit but equally so with new telecom players”, Castelo pointed out.
“Millions of Filipino callers or subscribers will finally enjoy cheap and affordable call and text rates, intra or inter networks, since these reduced rates effectively removed access barriers between one network to another. Besides, can we recall a time when we, as subscribers, can demand refund for charging rates that should have been found as overpriced precisely because telecom networks are not being regulated?”, the lawmaker asked.
“In the bill’s main text, the schedule for reduced interconnection rates shall take three (3) years to implement and this staggered scheme is meant to allow the telecommunication companies affected to absorb whatever resulting impact it may have on their billing systems, business models, or revenue concerns. In other words, the government is not really flexing regulatory muscle to push them into a position of disadvantage”, Castelo reasoned out.
“On the other hand, we have a patronizing 85 million subscribers who should also have every right to get their monies’ worth given otherwise very inhibitive or limited bundles of benefits from these leading telecom giants like Globe or Smart or whatever especially under a climate of constricted competition”, the QC solon said.
“We should remember that for so long a time, the interconnection charges pegged by the telecom networks themselves independent of any NTC interference as would regulate pricing have gone a long sway beneficial to their business than to social benefits that should accrue to the consumers. This time, we want some kind of corporate social responsibility translates into giving back to consumers more ‘bundles of joy’ at fairly more affordable and reasonable rates for voice calls, text messages, and mobile to landline connections”, Castelo added.
Additionally, Castelo clarified that the prescribed reduced rates are being institutionalized to allow NTC to fully implement its proposal to these major telecom players and new and emerging ones.
“Let us look at this congressional action as actually just leveling the playing field”, Castelo finally quipped. 30