Globe Telecom said it wants to protect 97 percent of its subscriber base against the 3 percent who take up more than their fair share of its network bandwidth by enforcing its Fair Use Policy (FUP).
Smart Communications also has its own FUP in place.
On February 13, The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) received Globe’s written explanation regarding consumer complaints on Globe’s FUP on its “Unlimited Data Offerings,” saying that the company wants to protect 97 percent of its subscriber base against the 3 percent who take up more than their fair share of its network bandwidth.
In a letter, Globe said that, “We enforced the policy for postpaid data plans to protect the data experience of the majority of subscribers who regularly use the network or leisure. The fair use is being implemented by all telco players not only in the country but also in the most advance economies.
Amid burgeoning consumer use of smart phones and other mobile data devices, network data traffic reports showed a surge of over 300 percent during peak hours over the last two years. Data usage reached 47 gigabits per second (Gbps) in 2013 from only 12 Gbps in 2011. Data user reports also indicate that heavy users only account for less than 3 percent of total data subscribers, yet consume a disproportionate amount of network capacity. These are the ones who use peer-to-peer applications to download large files, use their mobile phone as a personal hotspot, or stream videos heavy on a daily basis. These activities use up a majority of the network bandwidth, affecting other subscribers.
“The objective of a FUP is to encourage a proper attitude toward the use of unlimited services: ‘unlimited but not finite; unlimited but not absolute; unlimited but not unreasonable; free [to use]but not irresponsible.’ This has been the guiding norm in several advanced countries where telcos have aggressively checked network abuse through a stringent enforcement of their FUPs,” the Ayala-led telecommunication firms said.
Based on complaints received by NTC on this matter, Globe subscribers alleged that they signed-up and are paying, or had paid, for “unlimited” data service but instead are getting “limited” data service.
Subscribers indicated that they were being placed on the network with slow data connection once their usage reached a certain volume of data, like one gigabyte (GB).
Telcos use of Fair Use Policy
This means customers on an Internet promo and plan who exceed 1 GB a day or 3 GB a month (whichever comes first) will experience browsing at slower speeds.
“This policy allows us to maintain the quality of our mobile Internet service and give all Globe customers a fair opportunity to enjoy our network,” Globe said.
On the other hand, Smart Communication said in its FUP that, “This Fair Use Policy allocates 1.5 GB per month of mobile browsing usage for you to enjoy Smart’s superior 3G/HSPA [third generation/high speed packet access]network. Subscribers who exceed the fair use allocation may experience reduction in speed for the duration of the billing cycle of their subscription.”
“Web browsing and access to certain applications such as messaging, social networks, games, utilities, and the like, on the mobile phone are generally accepted behaviors for mobile Internet and are covered by this Fair Use Policy,” Smart said.
For its part, the NTC said that, “The subscribers, however, should be informed clearly of said terms, whether prepaid or postpaid.”
The NTC mandated Globe to submit copies of all its agreements with its subscribers on “unlimited data” so that the agency could thoroughly review the terms stipulated on FUP and pretermination clauses to determine whether the subscribers were informed of the terms of their agreement.