Written by Federico D. Pascual, Jr. on his column at the Philippine Star
TEXTING FOOTNOTE: For the benefit of those who are not on the loop, here is more material on the raging debate on Sun’s offering cheaper and unlimited texting and phoning services.
Mon Ramirez recalls in his posting on the Plaridel Papers board:
“Last year I met the PR man of one of the two giant telcos. I told him about the complaints of texters, about that expiry clause in the prepaid cards. So I asked him why we are supposed to consume 10 text per day.
“His explanation: From their study of the statistics, the average number of text sent by texters is 10. Since that is the average usage anyway they decided to have that as the limit since the consumers will be using that number of texts anyway. The second reason is technical: If they don’t set a period for the life of a prepaid card, it would clog their computers.
“Hindi na ako nakipagtalo dahil hindi naman siya technical man. Having spent hours at our digital lab at the old RCA lab at Engineering school when computers were clunky and PCs were more than a decade away yet; having used and programmed computers from the days of Apple when your Excel today was Visicalc then and your Microsoft Word was CPM’s Wordstar then and AppleDos’ Apple Writer; and, having exchanged text in the mid-80s using laptops, SSB HF radios and the Packratt terminal node controllers, I know he was pulling my leg.
“They better have solid arguments to present at the Senate hearing.
“From text-for-free to text-for-a-fee: Two or three years ago, there was a hearing in the House of Representatives where Globe and Smart were present. We were then protesting why the text-for-free were scheduled to be phased out and the text-for-a-fee were to be phased in. You will remember that at that time when you buy a P300 prepaid card you get about 150 or so free text credits.
“One major reason presented by Atty. Salalima, the legal counsel for Globe. In so many words characteristic of the talks of many lawyers out to confuse us, he said that they need the additional revenue to be able to set up more cell sites in the remote countryside so that our poor brothers and sisters there could avail of the new technology.
“Bleeding heart talaga ang dating. Well, most HOR members probably agreed with him, which is the reason Globe and Smart, the Shylock twins, with the approval of the National Telecommunications Commission headed then by a classmate in ROTC, retired Gen. Eliseo Rio Jr., went on to charge each text. Goodbye, free text.
“How did text come about? Smart was the first cellular phone company that made it nationwide, but their first network was analog, which did not have the text capability. Globe came a little later, but it opted for the digital technology. They also had their voice calls priced higher.
“Now, according to an engineer friend who used to be with Globe, Globe offered the text since it is built-in in the digital technology. It is there anyway, whether they use it or not. They did not think that it would be a hot item then, but they offered anyway (this) added feature not offered by the leading competitor Smart.
“To their surprise, Filipinos took to texting like crazy. Smart was surprised too of the jump in Globe’s subscriber base. I learned later from the technical executive at Smart that they had to advance the date for the shift to digital technology to catch up with Globe.
“In other words, texting became the goose that is laying the golden egg every fraction of a second, especially after consumers became addicted to texting during the free text days. “So now we have the expiry dates and other features that will ensure added income.
“At almost one billion pesos per month net profit now for each giant telco, it is not difficult to imagine that they are salivating for more billions from the already addicted text users.”