NTC looks into longer validity periods for prepaid load

Reuters means BUSINESS

MANILA - After its failed attempt to remove the validity period of prepaid card load, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) is now entertaining the possibility of instead requiring a longer validity period for the purchased credit.

Edgardo Cabarios, NTC Common Carrier and Authorization Department director, said removing the validity period didn't push through because of the network operating and maintenance expenses such a proposal entailed.

He said the agency is now looking into the possibility of extending the load validity to five days, from  the three days currently programmed for load credits worth P10 and below.

At present, mobile phone prepaid cards expire if the owners fail to reload after a year. Meanwhile, the validity period for the load depends on the amount purchased.

In 2009, the NTC issued Memorandum Circular 03-07-2009, extending the validity period of prepaid load. A load of P10 or below would be valid for three days, while loads of P300 and above could last for 120 days.

Ramon Isberto, spokesperson of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co, said the effectivity of the load was already extended two years ago.

"So I think we have to carefully review it because as you know the rule concept of the effectivity is tied up with the cost of maintaining the subscriber in our data base. So we have to consider that. And that the consumer interest should be balanced out, because it also doesn't work to the interest of the consumer," Isberto said.

The PLDT group - which includes Smart, Talk N' Text, Sun and Red Mobile - had 68.6 million subscribers at end-September 2012. Of the total, 66.42 million were prepaid subscribers and 2.18 million were on postpaid plans.

Smart had 24.98 million prepaid subscribers, while Talk "N Text, Sun Cellular and Red Mobile had 26.52 million, 14.51 million and 399,973 subscribers, respectively.

PLDT's prepaid reveneus reached P65.27 million in the first nine months of last year, an 8 percent increase from the P60.32  million in the same period in 2011.

Prepaid cellular service revenues accounted for 84 percent and 91 percent of cellular voice and data revenues in the first nine months of 2012 and 2011, respectively.

Globe Telecom, which also owns Touch Mobile, had 30.39 million prepaid subscribers and 1.66 million on postpaid plans at end-September 2012. 

The Ayala-led telco's consolidated service revenues amounted to P61.3 billion at end-September last year, up 6 percent from P57.7 billion in the same period in 2011. is the online news portal of TV5, a member of the PLDT group.