IN response to the call of the Duterte administration for telecom firms to improve their services and bring down their charges, PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom Inc. on Monday agreed to reduce their interconnection fees for voice calls.
Starting January 1 next year, charges for calls between the two rival carriers will be reduced by as much as 40 percent across-the-board to P2.50 per minute from P4 per minute currently. At present, mobile to mobile and landline to mobile voice calls cost P4.00 per minute, while mobile to landline voice calls cost P3.00 per minute.
Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte said he was opening up the telecommunications industry to foreign players to spur competition and improve service.
Duterte earlier told the industry to shape up and revamp their internet offerings.
“We are supporting government’s efforts to bring down the cost of telecom services in the country. This agreement will translate in different ways to more affordable voice call rates for our subscribers,” said Ray Espinosa, PLDT director and head of regulatory affairs and policy office.
PLDT Chief Revenue Officer Eric Alberto said both operators are also committed to maintaining the highest quality of connection for voice calls between the two networks even as they endeavor to reduce interconnection charges.
He noted that the PLDT Group has actually been bringing down voice call rates through bundled services, especially in its mobile services – Smart, Sun, and TNT.
“We were the first to introduce unlimited voice calls from the PLDT Group mobile networks to a PLDT landline and between any of the mobile services Smart, Sun, and TNT. This unlimited service resulted in much lower voice call charges among PLDT’s over 70 million subscribers,” Alberto said.
For their part, Globe Chief Technology and Information Officer Gil Genio said that the agreement means the price of domestic mobile and fixed line calls between Globe and PLDT-Smart will be reduced, effectively benefitting consumers.
The reduction of interconnection rates will not affect Globe to Globe (intra) calls as these are not subject to interconnect charges and are already offered to consumers on an unlimited basis. International calls will likewise not be covered.
Under the agreement, the two telcos committed to take steps to lower retail rates for voice, taking into consideration the reduction in interconnection rates. Both parties also committed to maintain GOS (grade of service) in interconnection.
The agreement is related to the issuance by the National Telecommunications Commission of a memorandum circular providing for a reduction in the interconnection rate between the two networks.
“For many years now, Globe has been strongly advocating the rationalization of interconnect access charge between the two telcos. We are confident that a reduction in the cost of interconnection for voice calls will eventually redound to a more robust economy, providing our customers with an affordable and easily accessible way of communication,” Genio said.
Secretary Rodolfo Salalima of the Department of Information and Communications Technology and NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba witnessed the signing between PLDT and Globe.
The NTC said the decision to lower interconnection rates is in line with efforts to reduce communications costs, maintain and foster fair competition in the telecommunications industry and make mobile voice service more affordable to the public. The MOU will serve as a guide to amend previous interconnection agreements.