State considers plan to make cellcos offer free SMS

23 May 2008

The Filipino government is considering a plan to force domestic cellular operators, which together currently carry more than 1.39 billion SMS messages per day, to offer texting for free. The Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza is quoted as saying: ‘Carriers should only charge for voice calls because in their franchise, they only pay for voice services. Text messaging is not really considered a [basic] service and should be free.’ The department is expected to submit a petition to the regulator, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) calling on it to remove the charges on SMS messaging, even though it acknowledges that such a move will prove controversial and difficult to push through. However, Mendoza says something must be done to address the situation whereby the Philippines has one of the highest rates for mobile phone services in Asia.