Stopping The Per Pulse Call Charging

This is an update on my various blogs about the implementation of NTC Memorandum Circular No. 05-07-2009 ordering the cellular phone companies to bill the phone calls made by their subscribers on per pulse (per six-second interval) basis and not on per minute charging that it used to be. The circular would have been effective since last December 6, 2009 for same network calling and December 16 of the same year for calls to other network. What happened was Globe and Smart came out with their same network calling schemes but using number prefixes other than “0” which is the default dialing procedure. Sun Cellular did not come out with any sort of compliance to the circular. Regarding the per pulse charging on calls to other networks, none of the telcos complied with the circular. Instead of complying, they filed for restraining orders with the court to stop the implementation of the circular.

At first, the court junks telco’s request to stop new billing scheme and said there was no urgent reason for it. The Court of Appeal’s Seventh Division issued a resolution last Jan. 27 denying the petition of Connectivity Unlimited Resources Enterprise, Inc. (CURE) for a temporary restraining order (TRO). CURE is a unit of Smart Communications, Inc., which is owned by Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT). The court decision also said “a TRO is only issued if the matter is of extreme urgency and the applicant will suffer grave and irreparable. None of these conditions is existent in the present case.”

The decision should have been a cause for joy to NTC and the Filipino people but in a twist of fate and for violating the rights of telecommunication companies, the Court of Appeals stopped the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) from implementing the per-pulse billing system last February 19, 2010. In a three-page resolution, the appeals court 11th division through Associate Justice Hakim Abdulwahid said the restraining order shall be effective for 60 days.

In a news report at INQUIRER.net, the appeals court said that while hearings were conducted on the applications for rates approval filed by the petitioners, the per-pulse billing system has never been brought up in the hearings. This means that the side of the petitioners was never considered prior to the implementation of the new billing policy. The appeals court further said that there is an urgency to stop the enforcement of the new policy because “not only petitioners but also the telecommunication industry and the general public who rely on petitioners for communication services, will suffer grave and irreparable injury.”

Here are two (2) situations where our justices see situations and decide differently. I am not questioning how the decisions are arrived at but I wish the final one would consider the public in general. The telcos are making so much in profits nowadays and I cannot see them suffer grave and irreparable injury if the per pulse charging is implemented. By the way, the court ordered the NTC to submit a comment on the petition within 10 days and explain why an injunction should not be issued. Let’s hope NTC will do good in their rebuttal.

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