Stepping up the pressure against local telcos, two militant groups have created a refund tracker to inform phone users of the current financial obligations of the mobile operators.
Last May, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) required Globe Telecom, Smart Communications, and Digitel Philippines to refund P8 million a day from overcharged SMS rates.
This figure now amounts to P7.27 billion with additional P545,113.00 fine, according to the Computer Professionals’ Union (CPU) and consumer organization TxtPower, which created the site tracker.
The refund tracker 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.
Mac Yanto of CPU and TxtPower said the NTC should have accurate data on SMS, calls, and mobile traffic usage which can serve as the basis of assessing telco quality of service.
?A quick look on telco annual reports will show that six percent of the total SMS traffic must be refunded. Telcos owe us at least P18 million per day and not just P8 million,” said Yanto.
On Wednesday, June 4, it was reported that Bayan Muna representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate have filed a motion for intervention to force the NTC to implement its refund order.
The party-list solons have argued that as long as a higher court has not issued a temporary restraining order, the NTC can already execute its order since it has become final and executory.
Yanto said mobile users will get an equivalent of P85 load credit if the telcos would abide by the NTC ruling, adding that refund can benefit about 106.5 million subscribers.
Based on 2013 PLDT report and 2013 3Q Globe report, the combined revenue of the telecommunications firms is P71.9 millions from SMS and related services alone, according to Yanto.
Yanto said the refund should also include “on-network” SMS in addition to “off-network” SMS. Telcos charge the same P1.00 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,? said 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??