The House minority bloc has threatened to push for the revocation of the franchise to operate of the country’s two biggest telecommunication companies (telcos)–Smart and Globe–over poor network services.
House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez of Quezon and his deputy, Rep. Harry Roque of Kabayan party-list, gave the warning on Wednesday in connection with the Smart franchise approved by Congress last December.
The Smart franchise virtually killed potential competitors with equal incentives for existing and future telcos and the looming renewal of Globe’s franchise before Congress.
Suarez noted that instead of improving connectivity, network providers continue to disappoint their customers with their poor services which include: missing and delayed text messages, dropped calls, weak signal, slow Internet, unresponsive technical support, exaggerated and erroneous billings, unexplained deduction on prepaid load and misleading advertisements
“A franchise carries with it the responsibility of operating and managing the public utility, to the service and satisfaction of the public. We cannot let these firms make exponential profit while services continue to deteriorate. Corporate greed has no place in the operation of public utilities,” Suarez said in a statement.
Roque argued that Smart and Globe could already be violating the respective franchises granted to them by Congress because the companies offer differing services to postpaid and prepaid subscribers, with the prepaid subscribers getting the worse service as compared with their postpaid counterparts.
“If there is an outage, the postpaid subscribers are entitled to a refund. But if you are a prepaid subscriber, you get none. If you lose your mobile phone, postpaid subscribers can acquire their same mobile number again at no cost. But if you are a prepaid subscriber, you are not entitled of the same benefit,” he said.
“Why such difference in services offered when the bulk of the subscribers are on prepaid subscription? These companies should explain why Congress should not revoke their franchises. Imagine, we have poor mobile signal here in Congress when these companies get their franchise from Congress. These companies’ ways are so appalling,” Roque, a lawyer, added.
Suarez said these telecommunication companies religiously charge their customers, both postpaid and prepaid, despite the lack of acceptable level of service, with postpaid subscribers getting billed monthly regardless of the fact that they are unable to make and receive calls for a month because of signal issues and lack of sufficient technical support.
He noted that prepaid subscribers who avail of text, call and Internet promos, thinking that it would save them money, on the other hand, end up losing more because of intermittent signal and limited connectivity.
“In the absence of any urgent measures to be taken by these companies, we will be filing the appropriate resolutions to determine the source of the problem, and to identify clear and urgent solutions,” Suarez said.