NTC to resurrect plans to cut voice, SMS charges

29 Jun 2011

The Philippine telecoms regulator the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) is again considering proposals to reduce fees for mobile services in the country by lowering interconnection charges for voice calls and SMS messages sent between rival networks. It is understood the regulator has published two draft decisions on the matter – akin to previous measures floated in 2008 and 2009 – and is launching a public hearing on the plan, timed to take place before any decision is made on PLDT’s plan to acquire a controlling stake in Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc (Digitel). In a statement released yesterday, the NTC said: ‘The country’s 85 million cellphone subscribers stand to gain from the … thrust of reducing interconnection charges on voice calls and short messaging service.’

The agency’s proposal calls for an immediate halving in interconnection charges for voice calls to PHP2 per minute, following which a glide path will see the figure coming down to PHP1 per minute within two years. Meanwhile, the second draft proposal is looking to reduce interconnection rates for SMS services to PHP0.25 from the current PHP.035, with the ultimate aim of trimming them to PHP0.15 by the third year. The public hearing is slated for 4 July.