Friday, February 24, 2012

News Update Bill seeks to regulate cellphone services

QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA–House Bill 5653 or the “Mobile Phone Subscribers Bill” seeks to mandate all telcos to provide prepaid and postpaid subscribers of their detailed service charges as a pro-consumer stance against unsolicited and blind charges.
Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño said he is strongly pushing for the passage of the bill as mobile telcos refused to implement guidelines set by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), including the 20-cent deduction in interconnection charges for text messages last November.
Telecommunications firms have failed to produce a system that shows a prepaid subscriber’s usage of their phone credits prior to the load being consumed or expired, said Casiño.
“Prepaid subscribers often are left blind as to how their credits were consumed, if they were indeed consumed at all prior to the load expiration, which in itself is a dubious practice,” Casiño said in a statement.
“Postpaid subscribers meanwhile bewail a lack of transparency on the charges levied against them as found in billing statements,” he added.
Telcos Globe Telecom and Smart Communicationscan offer “onerous charges” due to the lack of transparency of the cost of their mobile services, the solon added.
He also scored the government’s failure to confront the alleged problem of “cartels” in the telco industry that have affected consumer rights.
For example, the NTC continues to avoid resolving the alleged irregularities of the telecommunications providers and only vaguely uses the provisions of Republic Act 7925 or the Public Telecommunications Policy Act, especially on deregulation.
With the passage of the bill into law, all telcos must file for a petition with the NTC to implement changes in market pricing of basic mobile services.
The NTC would also set the minimum performance metrics for all services, including calls, text messaging, and Internet data.
Under the bill, there should be no expiry of unconsumed prepaid credits and for calls made for only six seconds, the subscriber will be charged one-tenth of the usual minute charge.
Prepaid subscribers must also be presented the detailed service rates seven days after the consumption of the last load. Unsolicited advertisements will be made illegal, according to the bill.