Lacson bats for removal of interconnection fees for cellphone subscribers
In a bid to protect mobile phone subscribers, Senator Panfilo Lacson has pushed for the removal of the “burdensome” interconnection fees charged by public telecommunications entities (PTEs) for calls across two different networks.
Lacson introduced Tuesday an amendment to Senate Bill 1636, or the Lifetime Cellphone Number Act, seeking to remove the interconnectivity fee or charge imposed by PTEs on mobile phone subscribers for domestic calls and SMS (text) messages.
“We are here to protect the consumers. And the consumer, not being made aware he is calling through a different PTE (public telecommunications entity), is helpless in being charged with P2.50 for mobile calls and 15 centavos for SMS,” he said in justifying the call to amend the bill.
The senator even cited figures from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) indicating telco firms made some P806.9 million in 2016 in interconnection fees on domestic calls including SMS alone.
Yet, he said the P806.9 million was a measly 0.82 percent of their total operating revenue in 2016 of P98.35 billion.
Bill sponsor Senator Sherwin Gatchalian accepted Lacson’s proposed amendment, noting many subscribers are stuck to a single network because they are avoiding interconnection fees.
“With this amendment, (Lacson) managed to save consumers almost P6 billion in interconnection fees. This is actually a lot of savings for consumers considering every time you call another network you are charged P2.50 per minute, on top of P7.50 per minute call, even on dropped calls. It’s not a one-time interconnection fee but per minute,” Gatchalian said.
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