MANILA, October 24, 2005
 (STAR) By Jasmin Uy - Mobile phone subscribers may no longer have to worry about their rapidly diminishing cellphone load credits due to unwanted promotional text messages sent by their networks. This, after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) announced that it is regulating "text spam" due to complaints.

NTC information officer Bill Peralta said in the weekly forum of the Association of Government Information Officers recently that mobile phone subscribers who receive promotional or spam messages from their cellphone network should report them to the NTC within 30 days and file a complaint against the company that sent the messages.

Cellphone spam is any junk message or unsolicited message delivered to a mobile phone through the Short Messaging Service (SMS).

Telecommunications companies, content providers and companies have used spamming as a marketing ploy via SMS and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) to reach a large number of mobile users.

Mobile phone users, however, have been complaining about the regular promotional messages sent even without their subscribing to these promos. Each message sent charges the subscriber a certain amount that is taken from his load credit.

"Subscribers should save these messages sent to them to serve as evidence. We can file charges against the company. So far, we have 17 pending administrative cases," Peralta said.

Globe Telecom public relations officer Jones Campos, however, denied that they are charging their subscribers for the initial promotional message sent.

He said only those who subscribe to a certain promo, and thus continue to receive messages, like their daily horoscope, for example, are charged.

Smart Communications lawyer Roy Ibay, meanwhile, said broadcast text messages are meant for people who do not have access to a television, radio or a newspaper.

He said text messages, like the latest news, are sent to subscribers who also opt to subscribe to the promo.

Based on the draft rules and regulations of the NTC, only subscribers who have consented to particular commercial and promo advertisements, surveys and broad-cast text messages should receive these messages.

The draft rules also state that subscribers who do not reply to any promo message inviting them to join shall be considered to have opted out and "such broadcast should be stopped."

Peralta said the NTC has initiated a crackdown on mobile spamming amid reports of the telecommunications companies’ unchecked mass sending of spam to their subscribers.

He said the NTC wants to ban the random sending of commercial and promotional advertisements and surveys, ordering mobile operators to deliver messages only to users who subscribe to a specific service and to create an opt-out mechanism where users can "unsubscribe" from future spam.

Meanwhile, Peralta also warned those who are planning to buy mobile phones to check if they are approved, registered and accredited by the NTC.

These types of phones, he said, don’t last long compared to the types accredited by the NTC because these are not customized or programmed for use in the Philippines.

"The tendency is that these phones will not last for a year. To identify if these are accredited with us, the consumers must check for the NTC seal or sticker at the back of each phone," he said. – Freeman News Service

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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