Banning Unsolicited Text Messages

ntc_logoHere is another good thing that resulted from the public hearing conducted by the Senate on the issue of vanishing prepaid cellphone loads. The National Telecommunications Commission came out with NTC Memorandum Circular No. 04-07-2009 ordering the cellular phone companies and/or their content and information providers to stop sending unsolicited text messages to their subscribers.

The new memorandum circular amends MC No. 03-03-2005A and provides that content and/or information providers shall not be allowed to send and/or initiate “push messages”. The term push messages is another name for the unsolicited text messages offering subscriptions for ring tones, horoscope, jokes, etc. to subscribers.

The first good thing that happened as a consequence of the Senate hearing was the issuance of a circular that provides for longer expiration period of prepaid cellphone loads. Then this circular which further provides that commercial and promotional advertisements, surveys and other broadcast messages shall be allowed only upon prior written consent by the cellular phone subscribers.

According to the circular, one of the major reasons for the vanishing cellphone loads is the “opting-in” by subscribers to content and information services being offered by the content providers and/or cellular phone companies in the unsolicited text messages that they send to unknowing subscribers.

Cellular phone companies that will violate the new circular by allowing their content providers to continue sending push messages will be fined PhP200.00 for every complaint filed by the subscribers while a content and/or information service provider will have its license as NTC-registered Value-Added Service (VAS) provider revoked if they violate the circular. Formal complaint has to be filed with the commission by a subscriber who receives unsolicited text message when the circular takes effect fifteen (15) days after its publication in a national newspaper.

Why am I interested and continuously reporting the developments on this case of vanishing cellphone loads? Aside from being a concerned prepaid cellphone subscriber, I also know the would-be effect of these NTC circulars to a small portion of the income of an internet café owner who has e-loading as one of the services he offers to his customers.

I know because when I was still a café owner, our income on retail e-loading business is enough to pay the salary of our shop tender. These developments are not so good for some café owners but they should console themselves with the fact that it is the public in general who benefits from the results of the initially ridiculed Senate public hearing on the case of vanishing cellphone loads.

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