Marcos Moves To Regulate Telco Fees

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One peso is way too much to pay for every text message you send.

Senator Imee Marcos has filed Senate Resolution No. 6 strongly urging the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to immediately reduce and set a strict one-centavo price ceiling on the “exorbitant” cost of text messages.

“We must balance the business interests of our telco providers and make sure that they abide by the global trend toward cheaper and faster services to the public,” Marcos said.

Although the recent entry of a third telecommunications provider Dito Telecommunity is likely to lower customer fees charged by industry rivals Smart and Globe, Marcos said that the public should already enjoy lower charges, particularly on the short message service (SMS) or text messages.

“Even if text messages cost only one centavo each, the three telco providers would still be able to profit from that,” Marcos said.

Text messaging services are “a practically costless forwarding service” that piggybacks on a readily available signal, Marcos explained.

The so-called ‘handshake’ or persistent communication between a cellular communications tower and a handset allows the delivery of text messages, which are small and simple relative to more data-intensive internet-based communications.

“The overhead cost of forwarding text messages is far less than real-time mobile data transfer,” Marcos said.

Despite the billions in profit raked in by telco providers from text messaging, internet speed available to Filipinos lags behind that in other Southeast Asian countries.

Lower SMS fees will reduce the cost of doing business, particularly among small-scale entrepreneurs, who frequently communicate with their customers through text messages.

The flow of information and knowledge-sharing among lower-income users will also be encouraged.

“Cheaper text messages and a strict price ceiling are long overdue,” Marcos concluded.