Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Safety measures to bar minors from playing text games

TODAY Reporter

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Thursday asked the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) to come up with safety measures that would ensure the nonparticipation of minors in text-based games.

NTC chief Ronald Solis said there should be safeguards in place before it allows text-based games, including promos, to be channeled through special access codes that the NTC will create.

“We had a preliminary meeting with PAGCOR. We asked them to provide us with safety measures before we allow them to have special access codes,” he said.

PAGCOR, which is mandated to centralize and integrate the right and authority to operate and conduct games of chance, has proposed to the NTC that prepaid card buyers should present valid identification cards upon purchase.

“The IDs are also needed before they can claim their prize. Their ID numbers would be registered via text, then have these validated upon claiming a prize,” Solis said.

Other safety measures include the registration of text-based games with PAGCOR before the carrier offers the value-added service to their subscribers.

Also, all promos sent through SMS must pass through the special access codes—888, 777, 878 and 787 to combat the so-called text scam.

The NTC will ask representatives from schools, churches and other sectors to participate in the public consultations that the commission will hold.

“I would seek a broader consultation. This is a sensitive issue. I would like to make sure that text-based games are not accessible to minors,” he said.

A public hearing will be scheduled in April.

Cellular firms will generate revenues from the proposed access codes that they are to provide. Such text messages cost from P2 to P2.50 each.

‘This will be of no cost to the telcos. In fact, they will be generating revenues from this,” Solis said.

The NTC had reported that victims of the so-called text scam victimized 487 persons in 2003.

In 2003 the NTC blocked 387 SIM cards used in the scam and another 102 SIM cards in the first three months of the year. The commission said it received 104 complaints against text scams in the first quarter.

The Antimoney Laundering Council, meanwhile, said that P5 million had been ripped off from these victims.

Also, the trade department said it received more than 100 queries about the validity of the “lotteries” using the text.

Friday, March 04, 2005

PLDT acknowledges VoIP as its biggest threat in 2005

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva
TELEPHONE giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) acknowledged this week that Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) will be the biggest threat to its main business in 2005. read more . . .

Telephone Problem (-:

An elderly lady phoned her telephone company to report that her telephone failed to ring when her friends called - and that on the few occasions when it did ring, her pet dog always moaned right before the phone rang. The telephone repairman proceeded to the scene, curious to see this psychic dog or senile elderly lady.

He climbed a nearby telephone pole, hooked in his test set, and dialed the subscriber's house. The phone didn't ring right away, but then the dog moaned loudly and the telephone began to ring.

Climbing down from the pole, the telephone repairman found:
1. The dog was tied to the telephone system's ground wire via a steel chain and collar.
2. The wire connection to the ground rod was loose.
3. The dog was receiving a jolt from the 90 volt signaling current when the phone number was called.
4. After a couple of such jolts, the dog would start moaning and then urinate on himself and the ground.
5. The wet ground would complete the circuit, thus causing the phone to ring.
Which demonstrates that some problems CAN be fixed by pissing and moaning

Thursday, March 03, 2005

NTC must encourage competition

The Philippine Star

After accusing the upstart Sun Cellular of predatory pricing, it is now PLDT’s turn to be accused by small Internet Service Providers (ISPs) of uncompetitive behavior... predatory pricing. This time it is credible, if only because PLDT is the dominant player and its actions do seem to indicate a grand plan to obliterate small competitors to the ultimate disadvantage of consumers. Stopping PLDT in its tracks is a job the government, through NTC, must do.

According to press reports, PLDT raised its charges for the EIR2 lines that ISPs lease from the company in order to provide dial-up Internet access to its subscribers. PLDT also supposedly denied access to its DSL (digital subscriber line) infrastructure to the ISPs, refused to allow ISPs to lease the "last mile" to the homes of subscribers and brought down the cost of PLDT’s dial-up Internet access to P1 per hour and its broadband Internet access to P1,995 a month. read more . . .

Pacific Internet gets multiple DS3 connections

Pacific Internet Philippines Inc. the largest telco-independent Internet Communications Service Provider in the Philippines and in Asia-Pacific, recently strengthened its bandwidth capacities with its acquisition of three full DS3 Internet connections. This major infrastructure improvement can match that of the telcos and is a testament to Pacific Internet’s thrust in providing quality services to its growing number of customers.
The three DS3 Internet connections are equivalent to 135 Mbps, capable of supporting 65 E1 corporate clients or over half a million dial-up users. read more . . .

Smart survives Sun Cellular's price assault

SMART Communications Inc., a wireless subsidiary of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), has reported growth of its subscriber base in 2004 despite the aggressive price assault initiated by its smaller rival Sun Cellular.

Despite this heightened competition, PLDT said Smart and Philippine Telephone Corp. (Piltel) together added over 6.2 million subscribers in 2004, bringing the PLDT Group's total subscriber base to 19.2 million. This translates to roughly 58 percent market share of the Philippine mobile phone market. read more . . .

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Report: Cell Phone Use While Driving Up

By LESLIE MILLER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - More people than ever are driving under the influence of their cell phones, according to a survey released Tuesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (news - web sites).


The survey showed 8 percent of drivers, or 1.2 million people, were using hand-held or handsfree cell phones during daylight hours last year, a 50 percent increase since 2002 and a 100 percent rise in four years.

All that talking is a potential safety issue, said NHTSA spokesman Rae Tyson.

"While we don't have hard evidence that there's been an increase in the number of crashes, we know that talking on the phone can degrade driver performance," Tyson said.

The District of Columbia and New Hampshire no longer allow talking on hand-held cell phones while driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Some communities, such as Brookline, Mass., Santa Fe, N.M., and Lebanon, Pa., require handsfree cell phones, but about a half-dozen states prohibit local governments from restricting cell phone use in motor vehicles.

Young drivers, between 16 and 24, increased their talking on cell phones by 60 percent between 2002 and 2004.

The National Transportation Safety Board (news - web sites) said it wants all 50 states to ban those with learner's permits from using cell phones or other wireless devices while driving. New Jersey and Maine are the only two that have passed such laws.

The survey was conducted between June 7 and July 11, 2004, at 1,200 road sites across the country and, in some cases, supplemented by telephone surveys.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

NTC reassesses Piltel’s fees

TODAY Reporter

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has reassessed Pilipino Telephone Corp.’s (Piltel) unpaid supervision and regulation fees (SRF) from P1.3 billion to about P550 million.

Piltel’s estimated P550 million worth of unpaid SRF was recomputed based on the difference between its paid capital and the par value of its shares from 1992 to 2004.

The reassessment excluded certain subscriptions, such as debt for equity conversion scheme, that stemmed from Piltel’s debt-rehabilitation scheme.

Piltel has protested the commission’s erroneous computation SRF and its imposition of penalties and surcharges.

The company computed SRF based on per value of the capital stock subscribed. It also pointed out that it did not receive payments when it implemented a debt-rehabilitation scheme.

Instead, it only reflected a superficial increase in its paid-up capitalization since there was no actual case infusion.

It added that the debt-rehabilitation scheme was meant to service its alleged indebtedness totaling P47.55 billion. Of which, 50 percent of the said amount was released in exchange for the allotment of Piltel’s convertible preferred shares.

The NTC, on the other hand, adapted a 1999 Supreme Court that stated SRF should be computed on the value of the capital stock subscribed or paid.

As such, NTC collects one half of 1 percent of companies’ paid-up capital or equivalent to P0.50 per P100 of financial resource.

The fee is due every 30th of September and whatever payment beyond the deadline is levied an additional 50 percent of the actual remaining payable.

“Since 1992, Piltel pays SRF based on par value while the NTC based the computation on paid capital, including all payments, premium and all income incurred by the company. After obtaining an opinion from the justice department on what is the proper computation and whether penalties and surcharges should be applied, the NTC has decided that Piltel has to pay the difference between paid capital and par value,” said an NTC official.

The Department of Justice, in its December 8, 2004 opinion, stated that the NTC could validly set aside its original computation of Piltel’s SRF and assess the proper fees by excluding certain subscriptions that resulted in the debt to equity conversion scheme implemented by the company.

And since Piltel has been posting payments in good faith albeit under protest, the DOJ said the NTC should not impose penalties and surcharges.

The NTC had said it would aggressively continue to collect late payments of the SRF.

Those who will not be able to pay their obligations on time will be required to pay an additional 50 percent of their outstanding fees.

If they still fail to settle the balance within 30 days, the penalty shall be increased by 1 percent for every month thereafter of delinquency.

Nonpayment of any of NTC collectible fees shall subject holders of certificates, provisional authorizations and/or licenses and permits to administrative sanctions to include suspension or revocation of their authorizations.

In October this year, the NTC collected last week P783.2 million in SRF from 290 broadcasting firms and 56 radio and phone operators.
PLDT extends NDD unlimited calls plan
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) has extended for 11 days more the promotion that offers unlimited flat rate of P10 per minute on all national direct dial calls and calls to Smart Communications Inc., and Piltel’s Talk ’N Text subscribers.

Chikka.com not operating illegally, says NTC official

CHIKKA.COM, a Philippines-based company operating a computer-to-mobile phone messaging service, is not operating illegally as a value-added service provider, a National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) official told INQ7.net last week.

NTC deputy commissioner Jorge Sarmiento said the company clarified during a meeting with the agency last week that it was mainly an application service provider for local mobile phone operators.

“They're not offering service to the public. They're selling it to telcos,” Sarmiento said.

The NTC ordered local operators two weeks ago to stop charging mobile phone subscribers who use the Chikka.com service.

Sarmiento said the NTC has received increasing complaints from subscribers who claimed that they were being charged for sending text messages from a PC to a mobile phone.

Chikka provides free PC-to-mobile phone messaging. However, mobile subscribers are charged when they reply back using their handsets.

“We got this impression that people were being charged whenever they sent a text message from their computers to a mobile phone subscriber. The order was not meant to stop Chikka service. We just ordered telcos to stop charging,” Sarmiento said Thursday.

In a separate interview, Junie Agcaoli, director for corporate communications of Chikka.com, confirmed the NTC's decision.

“We did explain to them and we were able to clarify that we're like sub-contractors for telcos,” he said.

Chikka's PC-to-mobile phone service is currently being offered under different brand names by local operators.

Agcaoili said the NTC order did not disrupt its service but the company did receive a lot of inquiries after it was implied that they were allegedly operating illegally as a value-added service provider.

CICT chief answers Senator Roxas’s criticism

COMMISSION on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) Chairman Virgilio Peña said last week that the agency was not hampering the growth of the country's information and communications technology industry.

Former trade secretary, now Senator Manuel Roxas had criticized the CICT for taking a regimented approach to the development of the Philippines’ information and communication industry – saying that the CICT's role in mapping the country's ICT development strategy is "too much government intervention that might hamper the progress of this sector."

Peña could not agree more with the lawmaker, however, stressing that the CICT is just an "enabler."

"There is no intention to regulate or centralize [ICT development in
the Philippines]. The [CICT’s] e-government and e-learning strategy is meant to support industry by generating demand," Peña said in reaction to Roxas’s remarks.

Peña said he was "in the dark" as to why Roxas criticized the CICT and its role in the development of the Philippine ICT industry.

In an earlier interview with INQ7.net, Roxas said, "the CICT seemed to have taken a different approach. I sensed that they're practicing [a] 'command and control' policy commonly found in the military. Their approach is very regimented and centralized."

The vocal lawmaker publicly criticized the CICT and government ICT policy in an e-services forum last week.

Market forces had been dictating the industry’s direction, and growth went unhampered because government played only a supporting role, Roxas had said.

"We [at the Department of Trade Industry] then were cognizant of the fact [that] the private sector led the industry growth. We deliberately, consciously didn't dictate upon where, how, who should do things. We just provided support," the lawmaker said. The CICT should take on the role of an advisory body, he added.

When he was trade secretary, Senator Roxas co-chaired the Information Technology and E-Commerce Council, a group composed of private and public sector representatives.

An executive order signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo later abolished ITECC to give way to the CICT.

CICT expects a new ‘.ph’ administrator before year’s end

THE PHILIPPINES will have a new “.ph” Internet domain administrator before the end of 2005, the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) said last week.

CICT Commissioner Dondi Mapa said that a technical working group formed to implement the new guidelines for the administration of the “.ph” domain has started drafting a “sponsorship package” this week, to be sent to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) soon.

ICANN is the worldwide body that supervises Internet domain names.

This package or agreement is the first step towards the re-delegation process, which the group initiated on Thursday, Mapa said. It would take ICANN one to two months to review the agreement, he added.

It would take another four to five months before ICANN comments on the package, agrees to it, and assigns a “delegee” to enact the redelegation.

“We hope to have a '.ph' administrator that meets all the provisions of the guidelines by end of this year,” Mapa said.

Joel Disini, current administrator of '.ph', has refused to acknowledge these new guidelines requiring him to choose between being a registrar and a registry of the country Internet domain, saying that the guidelines are “onerous” and based on “wrong information.”

“There is a serious problem with the ‘choice’ that is being forced on us. The Administrator is neither the Registry nor the Registrar. It never has been, and never will be! The ‘choice’ is based on wrong information and is indicative of how seriously flawed the Guidelines are. For Mr. Peña to keep insisting that we make a "choice", despite the fact that such a choice is impossible, is a dangerous sign of inflexibility,” Disini wrote in his blog.

Virgilio Peña is the chairman of the CICT.

Mapa however stressed that the guidelines have been promulgated, and the technical working group created by the CICT is taking steps to implement it despite Disini's non-compliance.

“He can go to court for an injunction if he can show that the guideline is wrong,” Mapa said when asked what options are left for Disini.

But until Disini can prove that these guidelines are indeed wrong, the CICT will proceed with the re-delegation process, Mapa said.