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  Gov't shelves phone metering bid;
NTC confirms policy instruction from DOTC

It is final: PLDT's phone metering application is suspended indefinitely.

The suspension came about after the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) gave a policy pronouncement to the National Telecommunications Commission that metering is not to be implemented as of now, NTC Commissioner Joseph Santiago confirmed.

"NTC has to comply with DOTC's policy guideline, although this does not prohibit metering," he clarified. The hearings on metering are ongoing. We will wrap up the case. The provisional authority (of PLDT) to implement metering will be deferred. We do not know for how long."

DOTC is "absolutely against PLDT metering until there is a more definite study on the unbundling of costs," declared Communications Undersecretary Josefina T. Lichauco.

Unbundling of costs is separating the fixed from the fluctuating costs of items related to access and usage. "A serious study has to be undertaken. Once costs are unbundled, there is even the possibility that rates will go down," Lichauco pointed out.

 

"Metering brings ill-effects, whether imagined and real, such as sudden increase in prices, affordability, decrease in telephone demand and others which runs counter to the policy of universal access. Thus, it should not be adopted."

"Metering is not good for the country right now.' Hence, "We maintained the position that the necessary pre-requisite to pave the way for the implementation of metering is not present."

However, the study on the unbundling of costs of PLDT will take time and the issue may be bogged down for two years. The NTC commissioner agreed.

Commissioner Santiago said they will require each carrier, not just PLDT, to submit their cost manual to NTC. Then they have to verify the costs. The duration of the study will depend on how fast the carriers can submit the requirements, for one.

A DOTC position paper pointed out that the cost of the network remains fixed for all subscribers whether they use the telephone or not. Hence, the network operator incurs no variable costs whenever subscribers are on-line, no matter how long their calls last.

Notably, the subscriber is charged with several items on his bill and he has no way of finding out the basis or the veracity of such items. These include non-fixed adjustments applied to non-usage items like line rentals. No computation is shown how PLDT arrived at such figures.

 

Copyright Emmie V. Abadilla

[This news item quoted from the Philippine Cyberview mailing list.]

 


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