The country’s top three mobile service providers have committed to review their existing per-minute call rates and consider instead a per-second rate regime for voice calls made by the estimated 75 million mobile telephone subscribers nationwide, Liberal President Senator Mar Roxas announced yesterday.
Roxas, chairman of the Senate trade and commerce committee, created a Technical Working Group (TWG), to be headed by National Telecommunications Commission Commissioner Atty. Ruel Canobas, to map out and resolve all technical and commercial issues that could bar a call metering system for all wireless voice calls.
Representatives from Smart Communications Inc., Globe Telecom and Digitel Mobile Philippines Inc. (Sun) said during the hearing that a per-second call charging was acceptable provided that government, or Congress, comes up with equitable regulations that would guide such billing system.
“Now we can get some forward movement and accomplish something na hindi na natin hinihintay pa ang batas,” the Visayan senator said, stressing: “Hindi pwedeng tumagal itong isang minutong singil para sa 20- egundo o 30-segundo na gamit. Dahil sa palengke, ang isang dosena ay 12, hindi isa o dalawa o tatlo lang.”
He mandated the TWG to report results of its discussions in the next hearing, warning that “kung hindi ito gagawin ngayon, darating din ang batas at iyon din ang kakalabasan nito. Mas mabuti ngayon pa lang simulan na ito.”
He reminded the NTC it has the power to regulate the telecommunications industry and to keep under its control charges imposed by wireless telephone providers.
“Makapangyarihan kayo. Kung gagamitin ninyo ang inyong poder, ang inyong karapatan na nasa batas, napakatindi nito. Hindi lamang kayo isang convenor. Talagang pupukpukin niyo, papandayin niyo, hububugin ninyo itong kasunduan na ito para may marating na aktwal na accomplishment,” he said.
Smart Communications’ public affairs head Ramon Isberto, Globe Telecom’s chief legal counsel Atty. Rodolfo Salalima and Digitel’s Senior Vice President for Legal Services Atty. William Pamintuan told senators there were no technical hitches to the proposed call metering system.
They said their respective firms are actually already practicing the per-second charging through their Smart-to-Smart, Globe-to-Globe and Sun-to-Sun unlimited calls and text promos, respectively.
“Kailangan natin siguruhin ang tama at wastong pagsingil ng mga kumpanyang ito nang mapangalagaan natin ang interest ng ating mga kababayan,” Roxas said.