Implementing Per Pulse Charging On Cellphone Calls

telco_logosEarlier news releases said that the per pulse charging on cellphone calls within the same network begun last December 6, 2009 and the calls to other networks will start ten (10) days later or on December 16, 2009.  I had blogged about this and even presented some sample calculations in my article previous to this one. However, news reports in the past two or three days showed some confusions or deliberate attempts by cellular phone companies to circumvent NTC Memorandum Circular No. 05-07-2009 ordering them to to shift to the new per six-second pulse billing system. The circular was one of the results of the Senate investigation on vanishing prepaid cellphone loads and is aimed at billing subscribers based on shorter pulses for mobile phone calls to reflect the real costs of a call.

Here is how the cellular phone companies try to evade the true intentions of the NTC circular on per pulse charging as reported in both print and online news:

A) Smart Communications Inc. – The subscribers of the country’s leading cellular phone service provider will have to dial “899” + 9xx-xxxxxxx instead of the standard “0” + 9xx-xxxxxxx when making voice calls to other subscribers of the Smart network if the want to get charged per pulse instead of the old per-minute scheme.  This was in contrast to earlier statements made by NTC officials—and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, proponent of the pulse billing system—that the new scheme was to be the default system for charging calls.

B) Globe Telecommunications Inc. – The country’s second largest provider of cellular phone service requires their subscribers to affix “232” instead of “0” when making a call to another cellphone in their network in order to be charged with ten centavos (PhP0.10/sec.) per second from Mondays to Saturdays and only five (PhP0.05) centavos on Sundays. Globe waived the flag-down charge of three (PhP3.00) on the first twelve (12) seconds of the call and their per-second charges are lower than the mandated per-pulse charges.

C) Sun Cellular (Digitel Mobile Philippines, Inc.) – The company has kept mum over the NTC order and just continue with some of its bucket pricing for its voice calls. While its many versions of unlimited call promos are lower than the mandated per pulse charges, their non-action on the order can be deemed as non-compliance to the NTC order.

What is wrong with the above-reported actions or inaction of the cellular phone companies? First, the use of number prefixes other than “0” can cause subscribers to commit the mistake when making voice calls and get charged with the old per-minute scheme. On this issue, Smart Communications said the method is compliant to the NTC circular because giving subscribers the option of being billed per pulse or the prevailing per minute of a call was all that the government had ordered. Smart added that the NTC order being a quasi-judicial action, there was a mandatory 15-day review period from the date of issuance before companies are bound by law to comply and the review ends on Dec. 21 yet.

This is one matter worth watching by all of us being subscribers to cellular phone service. we have to watch and see how a government regulatory body like NTC would impose their rule against these corporate giants called cellular phone companies.

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