THE Court of Appeals (CA) on Friday stopped the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) from ordering telecommunications companies or telcos to reimburse subscribers for excessive text messages charges.
In a resolution, the court’s Sixth Division issued a 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) on the refund of around P7 billion by telecommunication companies to “prevent any irreparable damage that petitioner stands to suffer and to prevent any decision that may be rendered herein from becoming moot, academic and ineffectual.”
The court acted on the petition of Digitel Philippines (Sun Cellular) asking the court to direct NTC to cease and desist from enforcing the refund order.
Digitel asked the CA for a preliminary injunction to stop NTC from implementing the order.
On November 2012 the NTC ordered three major telecommunications companies– Globe Telecom Inc., Smart Communications Inc. and Sun Cellular–to cut text messaging fees to 80 centavos from the current P1.
The commission also ordered the three companies to refund their subscribers the 20-centavo difference, or an estimated P7 billion.
NTC issued the order to penalize the telcos for violating the commission’s Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 02-10-2011 that reduces the interconnection charge for short message service (SMS) between two separate networks.
An “interconnection charge” is the amount paid by a telecom firm for every text message sent to a different network provider.
When an appeal by the cellular companies was denied by the NTC on May 7, they brought the case before the Court of Appeals.