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DICT: Too late for telcos to question waived interconnection fee

/ 10:58 AM June 20, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — It is “too late” for telecommunications companies (telcos) to question the removal of all interconnection fees as mandated by the Mobile Number Portability Act, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said.

“May mga comment na ganito (removal of interconnection fees) yung mga telcos natin, pero dumaan ito (Mobile Number Portability Act) sa public hearing, yung IRR (implementing rules and regulations) may public hearing ‘yan…Too late na ngayon na i-bring up nila yang mga concerns,” Rio said in an interview with Radyo Inquirer on Thursday.

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(A public hearing on the IRR of the Mobile Number Portability Act was held.  It’s too late to question the same now.)

“Concern nila yan. Pero wala na silang magawa, batas eh. So kung i-challenge nila yung batas na ‘yan, kailangan pumunta sila sa korte, no? But as long as that is now a law, they have to follow it,” he added.

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(That is the concern of the telcos. But there is now a law, there’s nothing they can do now, unless they go to court to challenge the law.)

PLDT spokesperson Ramon Isberto earlier said that while the telecommunications company supports the mobile number portability law, it questions the removal of interconnection fees.

“We have expressed our reservations, on constitutional grounds, regarding the rider provision in the law, which removes the interconnection fees between operators,” Isberto said.

“At this point, we are just registering our reservation,” he added.

Interconnection fees are charged by a telecommunications firm to allow their subscribers to call and text subscribers from another network.

“Tinanggal na yung interconnection fee (sa Mobile Number Portability Act), dati P2.50 a minute kung tatawag ka, binawasan namin yan last year to P0.50, ngayon zero na po ‘yan. Kahit na ho yo’ng SMS (short message system or text message) wala na rin interconnection fee kung mag-text ka from one telco to another,” Rio said.

(The law got rid of the interconnection fee,  Before, it was P2.50 per minute.  It was reduced to P0.50, now, it’s zero.  The waived interconnection fee also applies to SMS.)

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The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) earlier issued the IRR for Republic Act No. 11202 or the Mobile Number Portability Act, which will allow subscribers to keep their mobile phone number for life.

The IRR, the NTC noted, would become effective on July 2.

Telecommunications firms will be given six months to implement the guidelines, Rio said.

READ: NTC issues mobile number portability guidelines 

“Basically, our subscribers now can transfer from one telco to another without losing their numbers. Kasi ngayon, if you want to transfer from one telco to another you have to surrender yung number mo sa telco na aalisan and get a new number from the telco you are going to subscribe to,” he said.

“Maraming hassle yon, because for example may 1,000 ka sa phone book, isa-isa mo yang sa sabihan na: Ito na yung bagong number ko,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Mobile Number Portability Act into law last February 8. (Editor: Gilbert S. Gaviola)

READ: Duterte signs into law Lifetime Cellphone Number Act 

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