23 May 2008

Free SMS! Read all about it.

DOTC wants SMS to be free
By Paolo Romero
Friday, May 23, 2008

The government will be prodding telecommunications companies to no longer charge users for text messaging service since this is supposed to be free under their public franchises, officials said yesterday.

Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza said a petition will be filed before the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to compel the telecommunications firms to make the short messaging system (SMS) or “text messaging” free.

The Philippines is considered the text messaging capital of the world as Filipinos send hundreds of millions of text messages a day owing to promotions and gimmicks by mobile phone companies such as unlimited text messaging, and increasing subscriber base, reports said.

Mobile phone subscribers are expected to reach over 50 million by yearend through carriers like Globe Telecom, Smart and Sun Cellular.

Since physical infrastructure of landlines remains inadequate and mobile phone units are relatively cheap, text messaging has been the main form of communication even among poor families.

A single text message costs anywhere from P1 to P2.50.

Mendoza said if the petition before the NTC bears fruit, the cost of mobile communications will go down significantly.

“We are studying this now. Carriers should only charge for voice calls because in their franchise, they only pay for voice services. Text messaging is not really considered a service and should be free,” Mendoza said.

In Memorandum Circular No. 8-9-95, the NTC classified SMS as “value-added service” or “enhanced service” provided by telecommunications firms.

He admitted that the move would be controversial and would be strongly opposed by industry players.

“This will be a long battle. But for the DOTC, we believe that texting should be free, the Philippines currently has one of the highest rates in cellular phones in Asia,” he said.

Taken from : PhilStar.COM