Telcos told: Set aside debt feuds, iron out interconnection woes

A former government official has advised three major telecommunication operators — Globe, PLDT (Smart) and the newly launched DITO — to set aside feuds over debts arising from supposed fraudulent international calls.

Instead, they should focus on ironing out interconnection agreements to fulfill their mandate to serve the public.

“If it’s an interconnection issue, then there should be no other reason why the telcos should prevent another telco from interconnecting with it. In this particular case, that is the issue being propounded by DITO,” Eliseo M. Rio, a former commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), said in a television interview.

“The interconnection always has to be answered first. Telcos cannot limit what is required by the other telco to have their subscribers get in touch with their subscribers.”

Río pointed out that Executive Order No. 59, issued by then President Fidel V. Ramos in 1993, mandated that “the interconnection between NTC-approved telcos shall be compulsory.

“That’s what the EO is all about. It’s an anti-competitive measure because a dominant telco could easily not allow a lesser telco to communicate with his or her subscriber, so the subscribers of the lesser telco will be the ones suffering. We don’t like that.”

Rio, who also served as undersecretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology, said the government should give “more focus” on DITO’s complaints as “the public will suffer” if the interconnection issue continues.

Last week, DITO filed complaints before the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) about the anti-competitive practices of Globe and Smart in their interconnection agreements.

DITO officials claimed 70 to 80 percent of its subscribers’ calls to other operators do not get through, way below the NTC’s requirement that an interconnection quality must have a failure rate of no more than 1 percent.

Globe and Smart have responded to the claim, saying they have always played fair in the market.

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