House bill seeks lower mobile rates

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A LAWMAKER on Tuesday filed a bill seeking to lower the cost of voice calls, short messaging system (SMS) and mobile internet services in the country.

House Bill 4380 filed by Kabataan Party-list Representative Terry Ridon seeks to implement a standard rate of fees for mobile phone service, which will lead to possible rate reduction for text messages, regular calls and data services.

Section 4 of the bill stated that "all cellular mobile telecommunications service providers shall charge a standard rate of fees for mobile phone services to its subscribers in accordance with the rates established by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) which shall be fair and reasonable and which provide for the economic viability of telecommunication entities and a fair return on their investments considering the prevailing cost of capital in the domestic and international markets."

Ridon said the measure will also require telcos to file a petition with the NTC on any proposed adjustment in the approved ceiling rates of mobile phone services.

"Mobile phone service rates in the Philippines are one of the most expensive in Asia. It’s time for Congress to step in and bring down costs, for the benefit of millions of Filipino mobile users," Ridon said.

The bill also seeks to abolish the interconnection charges in all types of mobile phone services.

"All types of interconnection charges, including interconnection usage charges such as termination charges and carriage charges for mobile phone services are hereby abolished," the bill stated.

Ridon also stressed that telcos have already recouped their expenses for the infrastructure and equipment that enable interconnectivity.

"Abolishing interconnection charges would greatly contribute to lowering mobile phone rates without harming the economic viability of telecommunication companies," Ridon said.

He noted that at present, telcos charge subscribers up to 35-centavos as interconnection fee per text message while voice call to other networks range between P1.00 and P4.00.

"If interconnection charges are removed, present mobile phone service rates may go down as much as 50-percent," the lawmaker said.

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