Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Telcos: Free or not, we?ll obey gov?t order on 911 hotline

As the uproar in the online community continues to haunt Globe Telecom after announcing that it will charge an extra P5.00 for every call to the soon-to-be-launched 911 emergency hotline, its telecom rival PLDT-Smart Communications said it would comply with whatever the government wants it to do ? whether to charge a fee or not.

PLDT and Smart Communications spokesperson Ramon Isberto (Photo credit: Mel Dominguez)
PLDT and Smart Communications spokesperson Ramon Isberto (Photo credit: Mel Dominguez)

At the sidelines of the launch of the new Vitro data center in Makati City on Thursday, July 28, PLDT and Smart spokesperson Ramon Isberto said they are still negotiating with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) regarding the terms of deal but stressed that it is entirely up to the government if it will allow the telcos to impose a fee or make it free.

Isberto, however, added that it would be more prudent to levy a charge when calling the new emergency hotline to discourage prank calls ? the same position that Globe has taken that earned the ire of Internet civil society groups.

Consumer group TextPower, for instance, called Globe the ?first and biggest prankster? by supposedly creating another revenue stream for the company.

Isberto noted that when 911 hotline was opened for testing a few days ago in Makati and Quezon City, about 80 percent of the calls were false or just made out of fun.

?That figure (80 percent) was posted when we haven?t announced or promoted it yet. Just imagine the number of prank calls once we have formally launched it,? Isberto said, adding that it would be hard to track prank callers especially if they are using phones with pre-paid SIM cards.

The PLDT official also said that when the government?s 117 emergency hotline was first activated, the bulk of the calls were also hoaxes. The fake calls dwindled later on as the service was charged with a cost.

Isberto, meanwhile, also shared that the telcos were also able to find a way for callers not to land on Pizza Hut?s delivery number (911-11-11) if they would call the new emergency hotline starting Aug. 1.

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