Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Telcos get reprieve from new ‘load’ rule

REGULATORS YESTERDAY suspended the implementation of a section in a new memorandum circular extending the validity of prepaid mobile phone airtime credits, saying elecommunication providers need more time in developing software needed to comply with new rules.

Ruel V. Canobas, head of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), told reporters Section 4 of the circular was suspended until further notice due to telcos’ lack of preparation.

The provision states that "for each new load that is purchased, the amount of the unused loads earlier purchased that are still within the validity period shall be added to and accumulate to the new load. The new minimum validity or expiry period shall be based on the sum of the new load plus the unused load."

But Mr. Canobas clarified that the circular extending the expiration of mobile phone "loads" will still take effect on July 19.

Ramon R. Isberto, spokesman for Smart Communications, Inc., said programming changes required to comply with the guidelines may take several months.

Globe Telecom, Inc.’s regulatory affairs chief Froilan M. Castelo agreed, explaining: "[Our suppliers] said development of software will take two to four months plus the testing period." Globe Telecom will follow the old setup or the "roll forward rule," wherein the validity of the remaining prepaid credit follows that of new credits loaded if it is longer.

Digital Telecommunication Phils., Inc., echoed Globe Telecom’s position. "We are asking NTC if our current setup could be considered as compliance already since it is almost the same as the proposed guideline," said William S. Pamintuan, vice-president for legal affairs.

The new circular states that loads valued at P10 or lower are valid for three days. For loads worth P10 to P50, the validity period is 15 days; P50-P100, 30 days; P100-P150, 45 days; P150-P250, 60 days; P250-P300, 75 days; and more than P300, 120 days. — Jeremiah F. de Guzman

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