Consumer group disputes NTC’s claims; calls for lower cellphone rates

by Kobakila News

MANILA (July 20) — Consumer advocacy group TXTPower today rejected claims by the National Telecommunications Commission that it is allegedly “powerless” to stop spam messages unleashed by telecommunications firms and content providers on consumers.

“The NTC has sufficient powers and that is why the telcos always threaten to file suits against its circulars, just like what the telcos did to stop the lifting of prepaid load expiry and the imposition of a per-pulse charging. But apparently, the NTC is already very sick in its institutional mind. The NTC, its commissioners and top officials are gravely infected by the false notion that ‘deregulation’ gives the telcos and content providers to scam the public,” said TXTPower president Anthony Ian Cruz, a blogger and freelance journalist.

“If the NTC wants to help the public, it can ban all spam messages altogether and lower all rates,” said Cruz, adding that “in most countries, telecom regulators are able to prohibit telcos and content providers from sending out spam messages under pain of suspension of licenses and the slapping of fines.”

Cruz said that Section 17 of Republic Act 7925 states that the NTC has powers to “establish rates and tariffs which are fair and reasonable”.

“We are studying and contemplating the possibility of filing charges against the NTC for its apparent refusal to perform this function of determining rates and tariffs. The NTC is apparently reneging on its responsibility to the public and under the law by allowing the telcos to maintain high rates for the longest time,” said Cruz.

According to TXTPower, the two biggest telcos Smart Communications and Globe Telecom have maintained cellphone-to-cellphone rates at P6.50 per minute and cellphone-to-landline rates at P8.00 per minute for the longest time. “No rollbacks have been given to the public, only promotional rates that require registration and are not available to everyone.”

TXTPower also accused telcos of “outright lying” over the alleged“impossibility” of altogether completely removing expiry dates on prepaid load.

“These telcos outrightly lying to the Senate and the public. It is a fact that the free text bundled with prepaid load don’t have expiry dates means it is completely possibly to remove such expiry dates
altogether,” said Cruz.

“Yes, the expiry dates have been extended and consumers have understandably welcomed it.. But the expiry dates of prepaid load in the Philippines remain the shortest in the world and the reason is that the telcos appear to always wish to get back and resell prepaid load that we already bought but are returned to the telcos due to short expiry dates,” said Cruz.

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