By Mario Casayuran
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson sought Tuesday to remove the burdensome interconnection fees charged by public telecommunications entities (PTEs) for calls between two different networks.
Lacson introduced an amendment to Senate Bill 1636 (the proposed Lifetime Cellphone Number Act) during the Senate plenary session.
The amendment seeks to remove the interconnectivity fee or charge imposed by PTEs on mobile phone subscribers for domestic calls and SMS (text) messages.
“We are here to protect the consumers. And the consumer, not being made aware he is calling through a different PTE (public telecommunications entity), is helpless in being charged with P2.50 for mobile calls and 15 centavos for SMS,” he said.
Lacson cited National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) figures indicating telecommunications firms made some P806.9 million in 2016 in interconnection fees on domestic calls including SMS.
Yet, the P806.9 million is a measly 0.82 percent of the total operating revenue in 2016 of P98.35 billion, he pointed out.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, sponsor of the bill, accepted Lacson’s proposed amendment and commended him for the proposal, noting many subscribers are stuck to a single network because they are avoiding interconnection fees.
“With this amendment, (Lacson) managed to save consumers almost P6 billion in interconnection fees. This is actually a lot of savings for consumers considering every time you call another network you are charged P2.50 per minute, on top of P7.50 per minute call, even on dropped calls. It’s not a one-time interconnection fee but per minute,” Gatchalian said.