NTC TO TREAT TEXT MESSAGING AS A VALUE-ADDED SERVICE
MANILA, September 17, 2004 (STAR) By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes - The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) is set to classify text messaging as a value-added service or VAS, which means that a telecommunications operator first has to secure NTC approval before it can offer short messaging service or SMS.
In an interview, NTC commissioner Ronald Solis said that the agency has formed a technical working group to classify all services currently being offered by telecommunications companies into basic services and value-added services.
The Supreme Court recently ruled against the NTC when it said that it cannot compel Globe Telecom to secure prior approval from the commission before it can offer text messaging, simply because there is no basis for the NTC either in law or in its existing rules that text messaging is VAS.
Solis pointed out that there is nothing in the SC ruling that will prevent NTC from classifying SMS as value-added service. "But we are inclined towards classifying text messaging as VAS," he said.
He, however, emphasized that the various classifications will still be subject to public consultations among industry players.
Also during yesterday’s Telecommunications Summit, Secretary Virgilio Peña of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) emphasized that government continues to maintain its position that there should be a market-driven communications and IT sector in the country that is open to competition and with less regulation.
Peña was reacting to an earlier statement made by Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) group chairman Manuel Pangilinan that the government should start reviewing its policy of deregulation, which was the mantra of the 1990s but which may no longer be applicable at this time.
For his part, Solis asked the private sector to provide government with statistics and market data to allow the public sector to determine how it can come in and regulate and then "let market forces play it up."
The NTC is currently considering a policy that will allow three telco companies to operate in a particular service area.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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