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Lacson moves to stop telcos from charging interconnection fees

To protect mobile phone subscribers, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson sought Tuesday to remove the burdensome interconnection fees charged by public telecommunications entities (PTEs) for calls between two different networks.

Lacson introduced an amendment to Senate Bill 1636, the proposed Lifetime Cellphone Number Act, seeking to remove the interconnectivity fee or charge imposed by PTEs on mobile phone subscribers for domestic calls and SMS (text) messages.

“We are here to protect the consumers. And the consumer, not being made aware he is calling through a different PTE (public telecommunications entity), is helpless in being charged with P2.50 for mobile calls and 15 centavos for SMS,” he said at the period of amendment for the bill.

In contrast, he cited National Telecommunications Commission figures indicating telecommunications firms made some P806.9 million in 2016 in interconnection fees on domestic calls including SMS.

Yet, he said the P806.9 million is a measly 0.82 percent of the total operating revenue in 2016 of P98.35 billion.

Bill sponsor Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian accepted Lacson’s proposed amendment and commended him for the proposal, noting many subscribers are stuck to a single network because they are avoiding interconnection fees.

“With this amendment, (Lacson) managed to save consumers almost P6 billion in interconnection fees. This is actually a lot of savings for consumers considering every time you call another network you are charged P2.50 per minute, on top of P7.50 per minute call, even on dropped calls. It’s not a one-time interconnection fee but per minute,” Gatchalian said.

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