mobile-phoneLately, the Philippine Senate led by its Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile conducted a series of “hearings” or inquiries regarding the state of the Philippines’ telecoms industry. Finally, some government body is suddenly interested in looking at how badly the consumers are treated and “cheated” by the country’s telecommunication providers.

And this was not due to hundreds of thousands of people crying out loud about the “injustices” of this oligopoly in the country’s telecoms business, but was purely “accidental.”

Senator Enrile just uncovered this when he noticed that his prepaid mobile phone’s account load value mysteriously vanished, or diminished.

I have written some articles in the past about my (bad) experiences with these telecoms service providers. Which will probably remain a “rant” since our government turned a deaf ear to the cries of its people.

Now that election season is coming – some “politicos” will instantly become consumer advocates and will spend time delivering privilege speeches in the hollowed, err, hallowed hall of Congress. Perhaps its time for us to take advantage of this as well.

Now is probably the time that all complaints and pains consumers get from these service providers be heard. Now is the time that finally, someone in the government will take genuine action against these cheaters and bring justice to everyone.

Have you ever wondered how much it costs us for every SMS or text message we send?

We know that we are allowed to send up to a maximum of 160 characters for each text message. These 160 characters are actually equivalent to 140bytes of data. A kilobyte is equivalent t0 1,024 bytes, thus for every text message we send, we assume we are sending 0.1367Kilobyte of data, and we are charged somewhere from Php0.50 to Php1.00 per text message.

Let’s use the one peso charge per text message sent – common to prepaid users and to those low-monthly postpaid subscribers. That means we pay Php7.315 per kilobyte of data sent to the service providers.

On the other hand, these telecom companies charge Php0.15 for every kilobyte of usage if you browse the internet using your mobile phone. This means, if you browse this blog using your blackberry or internet-enabled phone, you will pay Php9.30 because the homepage is about 62 kilobytes of data to load.

So how much will you pay if you download “Careless Whisper” MP3 over the internet? Lets assume the full song is about 4MB – so that’s Php600,000.00 in your next month’s bill.

Now if you use the charge per kilobyte the telecom companies apply for sending text messages (Php7.315) – downloading and listening to George Michael’s song with a gyrating lady in the background will cost you a whooping Php29,260,000.00!!! Now that’s probably more than enough money to pay to go and see George Michael perform live with a dozen gyrating ladies all around you.

In contrast my DSL provider bills me Php999.00 a month for an unlimited usage. There is no restriction as to how big are the files I download over the internet. The technologies used here is no different than the technology used in sending and receiving SMS or browsing the web with mobile phones.

So what are we missing, dear Senators and Congressmen? Our country’s deregulated telecom industry actually prevented new players from coming in and give some pretty competition.

The industry is still controlled by these few service providers and unfortunately, they are holding the government by the neck – leaving us consumers hapless, helpless. Its the sad reality.