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Court of Appeals grants injunction on NTC’s new mobile billing rules

27 May 2010

The Business Mirror newspaper writes that the Philippines’ Court of Appeals (CA) yesterday granted a preliminary injunction against the operation of a controversial ‘per pulse’ mobile billing system being proposed by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). In its order, the CA has upheld a writ submitted by Smart Communications and Globe Telecom, seeking to extend by 60-days the original temporary restraining order (TRO), pending the final resolution of the case. Globe and Smart argue they are entitled to the TRO as their operations could be hurt by the application of a per-pulse billing scheme. The CA agreed saying: ‘To our mind, Globe and Smart, in the instant cases have shown, at least tentatively, the existence of a clear right and an urgent and paramount necessity for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction to prevent serious damage and to prevent the case from becoming moot and academic.’

The NTC unveiled its new per pulse billing system in December 2009, promising that the new regime would result in fairer charges for voice calls for mobile users. At the time it said that while the new scheme would not materially change the per-minute cost of cellular phone calls, it would reduce the cost of calls lasting less than minute. Under the proposed new regime, telcos will be allowed to charge a ‘flag down’ rate of PHP3 for the first two pulses, equivalent to twelve seconds, while each subsequent pulse (of six seconds) will be charged accordingly. The new billing scheme took effect immediately for on-net calls, but was greeted coolly by operators which subsequently filed an injunction in January this year.

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