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Telcos should refund SMS now. NTC underestimating refund

SMS Refund Monitor

"As of today, users should get an equivalent of Php 85 load credit if telcos heed the NTC ruling to refund mobile service subscribers," said Mr. Mac Yanto of Computer Professionals' Union (CPU) and TxtPower. TxtPower has been active in protecting the rights of mobile users against profiteering telco practices since 2001.

Last week, the National Telecommunications Commission required telcos to refund Php 8M per day from overcharged SMS rates. This now amounts to Php 7.27B with additional Php 545,113.00 fine.

Based on 2013 PLDT report and 2013 3Q Globe report, the combined revenue of these telecommunications industry monopolies is Php 71.9B from SMS and related services alone. "About 10% of their revenue were directly taken from mobile subscribers without any additional service given," exclaims Mr. Yanto. The refund can benefit the 106.5M subscribers of mobile services.

The refund should also include "on-network" SMS in addition to "off-network" SMS. Telcos charge the same Php 1.00 rate for both on-net and off-net standard SMS. “The refund can even be higher if NTC reviews in full the operation of telcos”, adds Mr. Yanto. “Why are we paying for the same charges for messages that do not require interconnection charges? Does this mean that telcos are not only profiting from overpriced interconnection services they are also charging us with a service that does not exist?”

Analysis of 2013 PLDT Annual report shows that about 6% of total SMS traffic for the same year is considered standard SMS. This amounts to at least Php 18M a day – much higher than the NTC ordered Php 8M refund per day.

Txtpower in collaboration with CPU has launched a refund tracker to inform mobile users of the current obligations of telcos. The site, http://www.cp-union.com/txtpower-refundsms shows per second changes on the refund amount. It also shows the equivalent load credits that telco should return, if all of the 2013 subscribers are refunded.

"This is the problem of a regulatory body that tries to regulate a monopolistic industry without accurate data and truthful accounting - it ends up protecting telcos and not the subscribers. NTC should have accurate data on sms, calls, and mobile traffic usage which should be the basis of assessing telco quality of service. A quick look on telco annual reports will show that 6% of the total sms traffic must be refunded. Telcos owe us at least Php 18M per day and not just Php 8M" ends Mr. Yanto.

Source: Computer Professionals' Union

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