Government sets lower call, text charges between telcos

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 19) — The government has set lower charges on texts or short messaging service and calls between telecommunication companies.

Edgardo Cabarios, National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) deputy commissioner, said the corresponding memorandum circular on the order will be published Friday.

"The interconnection rates will be reduced from ₱2.50 to ₱0.50 per minute for voice and from ₱0.15 to ₱0.05 per SMS for text messaging services," Cabarios said.

Lower interconnection rates could result in lower operation costs for telecommunication companies, making the business environment more attractive to a third telecommunications player.

WATCH: The search for the country's third major telco player

Meanwhile, lower interconnection rates may also result in lower telecom bills for consumers, even as more and more Filipinos are using online messenger apps to send messages and make calls instead of conventional methods.

According to the 2015 Global Mobile Consumer Survey, Facebook Messenger was the preferred messaging service with 94 percent of Filipinos surveyed choosing the service. However, only 39 percent of Filipinos were satisfied with their internet connection speed.

READ: Survey: FB messenger is messaging tool of choice for Filipinos

The search for a third major telecommunications company to break the current duopoly between PLDT and Globe was a part of President Rodrigo Duterte's last State of the Nation Address (SONA).

"If you want competition for the duopoly, you have to make it easy, you have to entice the investor to come in," Grace Mirandilla-Santos, lead convenor of the Better Broadband Alliance, told CNN Philippines.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) expects the bidding and awarding for the third telco company to start by late September so that it can begin operating next year.

At least 15 local telecom companies have expressed interest in becoming the third major telco player.