Senate panel to scrutinize telco policy on expiry dates on calls, texts — Poe
MANILA, Philippines — A Senate panel will scrutinize telecommunications firms’ policy on imposing expiration dates on call, text, and data cards, as well as the forfeiture of load credits.
During a Senate public services committee hearing on Wednesday, panel chair Senator Grace Poe said that she would create a technical working group that would examine details of bills seeking to get rid of the expiration of load data after hearing the positions of telcos and other stakeholders.
Among the bills discussed during the hearing was Senate Bill No. 176 or the proposed SIM Card Registration Act. This bill proposes that pre-paid SIM card users will be required to present a valid ID and photo and sign a control-numbered registration form issued by the service provider of the purchased SIM card.
Another bill that was discussed was Senate Bill No. 365 and Senate Bill No. 1880. The latter bill, authored by Senator Lito Lapid, requires a rollover data system for all internet service providers’ subscribers. The unused data allocation will not expire but will carry over to the succeeding months until the yearend.
All bills have been referred to Poe’s panel.
“Ang bagal at ang mahal na nga ng internet, nag-e-expire pa (The internet rates are already expensive, and yet its data also expires.) We heard of instances when the data allocation of many subscribers expires in just one or three days,” Poe said during Wednesday’s hearing.
Citing data from a 2020 World Bank report, Poe said that aside from having one of the world’s slowest internet speeds, telecommunication firms in the country are charging the fourth-highest cost in Asean at around P315 per 500 megabytes of prepaid mobile connection. This rate, the report read, was close to the internet cost in Singapore and Thailand where speeds are faster.
“It is very good for the consumers to have an assurance that their load will not expire. But, we should also consider that it might be untenable later on to manage a database full of registered numbers, including those that have been inactive,” Poe said.
“We want to address the situation where the money used by mobile subscribers to purchase their prepaid credits are not being utilized in its entirety, to the detriment of the consuming public. In short, sa kasalukuyang set-up, nalulugi ang mga Pilipino (in the current set-up, Filipinos are at the losing end),” she added.
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