DITO blasts rivals over grid barriers

DITO Telecommunity Corp. belied the “forum shopping” allegations of its rival Smart Communications Inc. amid its petition with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to augment interconnection capacity.

“There is no forum shopping in this case as the petitions with the NTC are for violations of the Telecom Policy Act and the corresponding NTC Memorandum Circulars,” DITO chief administrative office Atty. Adel Tamano said in a statement late Tuesday.

DITO informed the press on Monday that it filed a complaint before the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) to resolve a year-long interconnection problem with its competitors, who have been “not very compliant” with the legal mandate.

Tamano said Globe and PLDT’s anti-competitive practice and “abuse of dominant position” hinder the third telco’s growth.

“The complaints with the PCC are anchored on violations of the Philippine Competition Act for abuse of dominant position. Two very different causes of action, with different tribunals, which have distinct jurisdictions,” he said.

On Tuesday night, Smart, in an emailed statement to reporters, said it has an existing interconnection partnership with DITO but the third telco wants a bigger capacity.

Network abuse alleged

The company likewise argued that before asking for extra capacity, DITO should first clamp down on its subscribers who have abused the interconnection framework to make fraudulent international calls to Smart subscribers under local rates.

Smart likewise revealed that it sustained “huge monetary losses” over DITO Telecommunity Corp.’s failure to prevent its network from fraud.

“DITO has failed to prevent its network from being misused for fraud, with DITO SIMs masking international calls as domestic, resulting in huge monetary losses for Smart,” Smart vice president for regulatory affairs Atty. Ibay said.

“It is a disturbing development that while Smart continues to interconnect with DITO despite these outstanding issues and while we were still negotiating with DITO on a bypass agreement, DITO now attempts to avoid liability for these fraudulent international calls by filing a baseless complaint with the PCC accusing Smart of
anti-competitive behavior,” he said.

With an established monitoring and fraud detection system, Smart said it was able to track and block illegal calls from its end.

According to Ibay, these illegal bypass activities committed by DITO subscribers to the detriment of Smart also negatively impact the Philippine government, depriving it of the corresponding tax revenues from international voice traffic that could have been used to provide basic public services.

In response to Smart, DITO clarified that the alleged fraudulent calls were made by third parties and that it is equally a victim of such calls.

Tamano maintained that it will continue to pursue the case filed with the PCC to fulfill its mandate of providing “true competition in the telecom industry and to ensure that the Filipino people are given world-class telco services that they rightfully deserve.”

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