Sometime last week, law enforcers backed up by ABS-CBN’s XXX launched a sting operation against an sales agent of Text2Sawa, a prepaid mobile service that allows subcribers to send unlimited text messages across all networks.
ABS-CBN’s XXX program alleged that Text2Sawa was a scam.
As a consumer advocate and a close follower of developments in the mobile industry, I am distressed by this piece of news. Text2Sawa is living proof that unlimited texting across all networks is possible. Unfortunately, the networks seems to ignore it and would rather destroy Text2Sawa altogether. The National Telecommunications Commission meanwhile is being stupid in not seeing the real issue. Text2Sawa’s technology should embolden the NTC to talk with the networks to provide unlimited inter-network texting — but what do we get: nothing.
I’ve been made aware that Text2Sawa owners have in the past made representations with the networks. But the networks either slam the door on them or demand princely sums of money. I don’t know exactly, but that’s the word from the grapevine. My point is that we cannot expect the Big Businesses and Big Banks behind the networks to serve unlimited inter-network texting on a silver platter.
Meanwhile, I feel sorry for the Text2Sawa agent who was caught and detained in the entrapment operation. I hope Text2Sawa lawyers have managed to legally spring him out of jail and fight for his and their rights under law.
While most people rejoice about the fast paced technological developments especially in the mobile industry, it is my personal view (which is shared by most of us in TXTPower) that the government and telcos should be compelled to always keep prices at the lowest possible levels. Second-generation network facilities have already given way to 3G and 3.5G, but for the the most part, service rates are still high. We are made to believe its already 2007 but call rates remain nailed to pre-2000 levels. The telcos have earned gazillions from their old equipment, have recouped their investment many times over, but the price of making calls remain high. We are made to scrimp on calls! Some network officials go so far as to boast of their special pricing that are merely promos which they could take back when it pleases them.
In 2008, the iPhone comes to Asia and many hope that by that time, it would already be 3G-ready. But who has since used 3G services. Nothing comes close today to texting in terms of cost-effectiveness. We have yet to hear of flat or bulk rates for internet access from any of the networks. The purportedly “best” deal from one of them gives 30 minutes of 2G or 3G internet for P10 which is still expensive compared to the P10.00 per hour in internet rentals. What I am saying is that the networks themselves are to blame why Filipinos have yet to be weaned away from texting and be introduced to mobile internet services.
Even those who use mobile internet now are pestered endlessly by dropped calls and mysterious losses of prepaid credits! Napaka-1990s! Go here to see the current rates, and weep.
One of the networks even have the gall to charge P2.00 per minute for WIFI access in their small number of hotspots.
Related to the controversial NBN that almost went to a company owned by a son of the Chinese premier, it has been raised by some that the local networks can and should be the first ones to be given the chance to handle the project. But did these companies even volunteer in the first place? No. Maybe its because they were busy squeezing superprofits from subscribers, or their foreign partners simply advised them not to.
I am all for technological progress and for the widespread use of the internet, but I do hope we as consumers press government to take a more active role, to impair the telcos’ capability to cheat, to further democratize mobile internet access and to bring internet to the masses.
All these gives us reasons to wail that Text2Sawa is being brought down by the government.