EVERYONE has suffered daily frustrations over the telecommunications companies’ bad service—which the National Telecommunications Commission appears to condone. Probably the most common complaint is about dropped calls for which we, consumers, are still charged each time we try to connect again and again. Then of course there are, among many other signs of poor service, signal interruptions, degraded voice connection, voice transmission delays, distorted audio—people’s speech made choppy, line going dead and then coming back again after a few seconds, generally poor quality of voice and text transmission, line congestion and satellites not in operation that make calls impossible, very slow internet, and of course billing errors.
Today we publish a letter from reader Estanislao Albano, Jr., who narrates the plight of internet users in Tabuk City, capital of Kalinga province.
NTC toothless, inutile, uncaring
By Estanislao Albano, Jr.
Based on the experience of Tabuk City internet users, the NTC is not only a good-for-nothing agency but appears to be on the side of the telcos because why else would it drag its foot on the case of poor and longsuffering internet users like us?
In November last year, 47 local internet users finally ran out of patience and wrote the NTC asking for an investigation of the systems of Smart Communications and Globe Telecom for overloading, stating that their speed was such that one could go take a bath before a command is effected, and that there are times when the signal is so weak it does not allow any activity at all.
They also alleged being discriminated against because the signal of the telco in Tuguegarao City and other areas is several times stronger. At that time, the daytime speed of the two telcos did not exceed 100 kbps while in Baguio City it was more than 1 mbp and, in Tuguegarao City, more than 600 kbps.
Through Resolution No. 168-A, passed on Dec. 1, 2015, the Kalinga Sangguniang Panlungsod backed the call for an investigation.
When I called Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios sometime in early February, he told me his office and that of NTC-Cordillera would shortly conduct an investigation. However, up to now, the investigation has not yet taken place. And that’s even after I visited, last April, the NTC national office and talked to Engr. Imelda Walcien, acting director of the Regulation Branch of the NTC. She claimed that they had immediately acted on the complaint by calling the attention of the two telcos, with Smart saying that the problem is it cannot find technicians to fix the damage wrought by recent typhoons on their infrastructure.
As to why there was no investigation, Ms. Walcien claimed that Smart had reported to them that NTC Region 2 had already conducted one, which was a fat lie because when I later called NTC Region 2 Hearing Officer Jumar Cabulisan, he said they were not aware of the petition of the 47 Tabuk City internet users.
As to why the complaint of the disgruntled users was not even acknowledged, Ms. Walcien said at first that there was no return address in the complaint. But when I pointed out that there was a return address on the envelope and some of the complainants had their cell phone numbers in the complaint, she eventually said they were waiting for the report of the two telcos on what action they had taken on the complaint before they would communicate with the complainants. She said that was the same reason they had yet to acknowledge the resolution of the Sangguniang Panlungsod.
Deliberate NTC neglect of its duty
Whatever, up to now, more than six months after it received the complaint of the internet users and the resolution from the Sangguniang Panlungsod, the NTC still has to inform the two parties what it has done about the issue if any. This is not only deliberate neglect of its duty to protect the interest of telecommunication users but gross violation of the injunction [by President Duterte]to government officials and employees to respond to complaints immediately.
Let me add that the only time any NTC personnel set foot in Tabuk City was sometime last year when an NTC Cordillera personnel came to test the internet signal in the barangays of the city as part of the agency’s fixed broadband monitoring for the entire country. Alas, when I formally asked them for the readings, they emailed me the entire result of their validation, which reflected no readings for Tabuk City. Could this agency do even the simplest jobs like measuring the strength of signals?
I sure am talking for the complainants and other Smart clients in Tabuk City, if I now request President Rodrigo Duterte to overhaul the toothless, inutile, lying and treasonous agency. (Since February, Globe has been offering services from 2 mbps to 10 mbps.)