The Department of Information and Communications Technology wants to reduce interconnection charges between telecom operators in a bid to lower text and voice call rates.
The DICT issued Department Order No. 003 directing the National Telecommunications Commission to formulate concrete measures in reducing interconnection rates for both mobile voice and short message services to the minimum.
Acting DICT Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said the Philippines’ calls and text service rates were among the highest in Asia. “Surely, the subscribers will send more text messages that will really make up for the interconnection cost,” Rio said.
Lowering and standardizing interconnection rates via the Memorandum Circular by the NTC would not only benefit subscribers by being charged less for calls and text messages but would also favor the incoming third telco.
Rio said having standard interconnection fees would eliminate the factor of choosing an operator on the basis of the current subscriptions of friends and families.
PLDT Inc. and Globe cut the interconnection charges for voice calls by 40 percent or from P4 per minute to P2.50 per minute for mobile to mobile and landline to mobile voice calls in January 2017. Access charges for mobile to landline voice calls cost P3 per minute.
This means that the existing retail rates for voice calls would drop to P5.50 per minute from the existing prevailing rates of P6.50 per minute.
The access charge for SMS between mobile operators was reduced from P0.35 per SMS to P0.15 per SMS effective Nove. 30, 2011, but it was not implemented due to a pending case filed before the Supreme Court.
Telcos’ voice and text revenues declined because of the popularity of internet-based applications such as Facebook Messenger, Viber, Skype and Whatsapp.
Globe’s mobile voice revenues fell 5.6 percent to P32.27 billion in 2017 from P34.19 billion in 2016, while SMS revenues eased to P23.14 billion from P23.19 billion.
PLDT’s mobile voice revenues also declined 17 percent to P30.72 billion last year from P37.09 billion in 2016 while SMS revenues fell 20.4 percent to P26.04 billion from P32.74 billion.
The country’s mobile market has a total industry subscriber identification module base of more than 118 million with an industry penetration rate of 112 percent in 2017.
Globe had a SIM base of 60.7 million or about 51 percent of the market, while PLDT had 58.29 million subscriber base.