Smart, Globe, Sun Cellular to protest NTC refund order

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Smart Inc., Globe Telecom Inc. and Sun Cellular are filing a protest with the Court of Appeals against the National Telecommunications Commission’s order to refund subscribers some P7 billion for overcharging them 20 centavos for off-net
text messages.

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“It’s going to go to the Court of Appeals. I think the telcos have a unified stance on that, and we’ll just have to see how the court deals with it,” Ernest Cu, president and chief executive officer of Globe, told reporters.

“We’ve been given up to May 25 to file, we just have to make sure that all filings are in place and proper for filing,” he added.

Last week, the NTC mandated Globe, Smart and Sun Cellular to reimburse their subscribers 20 centavos for off-net text messages sent to other networks.

This happened after the NTC declined the motion for reconsideration filed by the telecommunication companies in December 2012.

Ramon Isberto, spokesman for Smart and Sun Cellular, said: “We are studying the NTC order and examining our legal options.”

“We intend to pursue all legal remedies, including raising the matter to the Court of Appeals. As the NTC officials have pointed out, the order is still subject to appeal.

Therefore, it cannot be implemented,” he added.The Commission said telco providers are being penalized for non-compliance with Memorandum Circular (MC) 02-10-2011 issued on October 10, 2011 or the “Interconnection Charge for Short Messaging Service (SMS)” that took effect on December 1, 2011.

The MC supposedly reduced the SMS or text interconnection charge to P0.15 from P0.35 for the purpose of making text messaging more affordable to the public pursuant to the directive of the Office of the President.

This supposedly should have lowered the rate to P0.80 per text message instead of P1 per text message as early as the MC took effect on December 1, 2011.

For failing to comply with the order in 2011, the NTC said that telecommunication companies were directed to reimburse their subscribers the excess charge of P0.20 per off-net SMS or text messages sent from one network to another network from the effectivity of the circular until fully settled.

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