DICT delays rule on 1-year expiration for prepaid load worth less than P300

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) has delayed the implementation of its rule on one-year expiration for prepaid load worth less than P300 to give more time for telecommunication companies to adjust to the new regulation.

The new rule was supposed to take full effect on Friday, January 5, but the DICT announced that day that it has moved the implementation date by 6 months, or to July 5, but only for prepaid load worth less than P300.

"We allowed this to prevent their systems from the possibility of crashing if changes are made abruptly, which will not only highly inconvenience the consuming public but may even cause serious damage to the telco industry," DICT acting chief Eliseo Rio Jr said on Friday.

He said that the rule applied to prepaid load worth P300 and above starting January 6.

Rio said the DICT instructed the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to closely monitor and address all complaints of prepaid load being eaten up before the expiration period lapses.

"We apologize for giving the public false expectations, but if we have to err, it would be on the side of being 100% certain that nothing untoward will happen," Rio said in a statement.

Telcos to comply 

On the part of Globe Telecom Incorporated, Globe general counsel Froilan Castelo said the telco will comply with the NTC-DICT-Department of Trade and Industry Joint Memorandum Circular No. 05-12-2017, prescribing a one-year expiration period for prepaid load. 

"Effective January 5, 2018, all Globe prepaid load with denomination of P300 and above will carry a one-year expiration period," Castelo said.

For prepaid load denominations below P300, Castelo said Globe will adhere to the 6-month period given to telcos to adjust their systems. (READ: [OPINION] Third telco: More fiction than real)

"Telecommunications as a business requires complex, advanced and real time systems that should be extensively tested, bearing in mind the impact to our 57 million prepaid customers, including transactions and voice, SMS, and data traffic that these systems support," Castelo said.

"The 6-month extension will give us ample time to prepare for the smooth and seamless implementation of the expiration change across all denominations," he added.

During the 6-month period, Globe will address, among other matters, the expansion of capacity, system tests, and additional number series.

"We will need to build more capacity and purchase additional licenses to accommodate the change. This will include purchase of licenses and software programming by third party vendors," Castelo said.

"To fully implement the change, we will also need additional number series from the NTC. Otherwise, we will run out of numbers as a direct result of the longer load expiration period," he added.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson of Smart Communications Incorporated, TNT, and Sun Cellular said the brands will also comply with the memorandum circular issued by the 3 agencies.

"In particular, Smart, TNT and Sun prepaid loads worth P300 and above shall, moving forward, have a one-year validity, regardless of the validity period printed on the physical cards already out in the market," Smart Communications spokesperson Ramon Isberto said in a statement.

Isberto said the PLDT group is "grateful to the 3 agencies for the grant of a 6-month extension period before the full implementation of the memorandum."

"This provides us more time to implement the extensive reconfiguration of our IT and other support systems, and to conduct the needed tests, in order to ensure trouble-free implementation of the new expiry period," Isberto said. – Rappler.com