Smart refutes NTC: We didn?t overcharge subscribers

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decision of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), which found that mobile operators have failed to comply with the provisions of a circular lowering interconnection rates. Apart from fines, the NTC has also required mobile operators to refund subscribers for the excess charge for text messages. However, Smart said there is no proof that the company violated the NTC memorandum circular and overcharged its subscribers. The circular, which was issued on October 24, 2011, required mobile phone operators to reduce interconnection charges from P0.35 to P0.15 per SMS. ?These interconnection charges pertain to rates that mobile phone operators charge each other in order to deliver text messages from other networks to their own subscribers. Smart has already complied with this circular,? the telco said. It also pointed out that the circular ?did not? order mobile phone operators to reduce retail rates that are charged to customers. Smart also stressed that under the law and existing NTC regulations, SMS is a deregulated service. The rate-fixing power of the NTC is residual in nature and may be exercised only under specific circumstances, it said. It noted: “Republic Act No. 7925 states that such residual powers can be exercised only when ruinous competition results or when a monopoly or a cartel or combination in restraint of free competition exists and the rates or tariffs are distorted or unable to function freely and the public is adversely affected.” Smart said none of the aforementioned conditions exist. “In fact, the Public Telecommunications Policy Act (Republic Act No. 7925) clearly states that the NTC ‘shall exempt any specific telecommunications service from its rate or tariff regulations if the service has sufficient competition to ensure fair and reasonable rates or tariffs,” it said. ]]>

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