NTC slashes interconnection rates of telcos

MANILA -- The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) effectively reduced the interconnection rates for both short messaging services (SMS) and voice calls in an order released Thursday.

Telcos will be charging PHP0.50 per minute from PHP2.50 per minute for voice calls while text messaging will be at PHP0.05 per text message from PHP0.15, according to NTC Memorandum 05-07-2018 dated July 19.

The memorandum circular shall take effect, for the benefit of consumers, 15 days after publication in newspapers of general circulation.

The order is in compliance with Department Order No. 002-2018 of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), which directed the NTC to craft measures that will ensure lower interconnection rates for both mobile voice and SMS being offered by telcos.

The department noted that mobile voice and SMS rates in the Philippines are among the highest in Asia. “There is a need to make the mobile voice service and short message service in the Philippines more affordable for the ordinary Filipino consumer, it said.

Affordable interconnection rates would encourage competition and would attract new major telecommunications players by creating a healthy environment conducive for competition and playing field,” DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio said in the order.

The interconnection rate is a fee charged by a telco to its subscribers, whenever they call and text another person from a different operator.
Reducing interconnection rates is one of the issues that the government is addressing to pave the way for the entry of a new player in the telco industry.

Other concerns include the distribution of frequencies that were formerly awarded to Bayan Telecommunications, Inc. (Bayantel); establishment of a common tower policy that may be leased to new and existing players for the installation of communication facilities and commercialization of the National Grid of the Philippines-Transco dark fiber-- unused fiber optic cables that may be utilized for the transmission of communication signals.
The DICT is eyeing to select the third telco player within the year. (PNA)