Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has yet to receive a copy of the complaint filed by DITO Telecommunity Corporation (DITO) with the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC). Nonetheless, Smart Communications, speaking through Atty. Roy Ibay, Vice President for Regulatory Affairs, assures the PCC and the public that it is not engaged in any act constituting abuse of dominant position or anti-competitive behavior against DITO.
Based on news reports, DITO is claiming that its subscribers are not being allowed to interconnect with the Smart network. “This is simply false,” said Atty. Ibay. “Smart and DITO have an existing interconnection agreement, which Smart continues to honor. DITO is now requesting for additional capacity, and has raised this via petition to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), where it is pending. DITO’s filing of the PCC complaint on the same subject-matter is blatant forum-shopping,” he continued.
In the NTC petition, DITO asked for extra capacity for interconnection, citing congestion and overutilization of trunks. Smart argued, however, that before asking for extra capacity, DITO should first clamp down on its subscribers who have abused the interconnection framework to make fraudulent international calls to Smart subscribers under local rates. “Simply put, DITO has failed to prevent its network from being misused for fraud, with DITO SIMs masking international calls as domestic, resulting in huge monetary losses for Smart,” said Atty. Ibay. Owing to Smart’s robust monitoring and fraud detection systems, Smart is able to track and block such illegal calls emanating from its end. “Smart reiterates its willingness to grant DITO’s request for capacity augmentation, provided that it sign an agreement to compensate Smart fairly in the event that such fraudulent calls continue to proliferate. Otherwise, Smart cannot allow its interconnection arrangement with DITO to perpetuate fraud,” he added.
According to Atty. Ibay, these illegal bypass activities committed by DITO subscribers to the detriment of Smart also negatively impact the Philippine government, depriving it of the corresponding tax revenues from international voice traffic that could have been used to provide basic public services.
“It is a disturbing development that while Smart continues to interconnect with DITO despite these outstanding issues and while we were still negotiating with DITO on a bypass agreement, DITO now attempts to avoid liability for these fraudulent international calls by filing a baseless complaint with the PCC accusing Smart of anti-competitive behavior. It should have instead acknowledged that PLDT, Smart’s parent company, was instrumental in helping DITO fulfill its commitments to the NTC and Congress as a third telco, considering that PLDT built for DITO a big portion of its telco infrastructure,” Atty. Ibay concluded.