FFE Magazine

Philippines: Law for mobile phone subscribers pushed

BAYAN Muna party-list Representative and senatorial candidate Teddy Casino hopes for the passage of House Bill (HB) 5653, or the Mobile Phone Subscribers Act, in order to regulate the telephone companies from imposing higher interconnection fees and protect mobile subscribers from recurring drop calls and load losses.

Casino, speaking in Monday's Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City, said HB 5653 will seek to protect the interest of the mobile subscribers now that complaints on losses of cellphone loads and dropped calls are rising.

He said the bill also gives the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) more teeth in regulating higher standards on the telephone companies with their respective services, adding that the current regulations in which the NTC follows were crafted back in the 1990's.

"The NTC should regulate prices and they must conduct public hearing before imposing new rates," he said.

The lawmaker also said that the agency failed to impose the own orders it issued in October 2011 on mobile networks to cut down the interconnection fees by at least .20 centavos.

Had the telephone companies followed the order, a total of P6 billion could have been saved by all mobile phone subscribers accumulatively from October last year to September this year, according to Casino.

He said such failure of NTC is the primary reason why they called on for the passage of the HB 5653.

The proposed bill was already submitted to House Committee on Information and Communications Technology, but Casino added there's no schedule yet as to when is the committee hearing.

"We're hoping that the bill will be passed even in the committee level before the Christmas break," he said.

Penal provisions of the proposed bill, he said, include that charges on calls must be every six seconds, prepaid subscribers must get a detailed billing where the load goes, and network Internet must be free of charge.

He said prepaid subscribers are given focus in the bill since they are the vulnerable sector mostly affected by load losses and drop calls.

"In a survey conducted by NTC, both networks (Smart Communications and Globe Telecom) failed to meet the set-up failure rate of 4 percent. Both telcos failed to meet the standards of NTC on signal quality," he said.

sunstar.com || By Antonio L. Colina IV – November 6, 2012

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