No PLDT-Philcom, Sotelco interconnection in Bukidnon

pldt philcomslotelco_logoMALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/19 September) The PLDT-Philippine Global Communication (Philcom) and the Southern Telecommunication Company (Sotelco), two landline telephone companies operating in Bukidnon are no longer interconnected as early as August second week, Bobet Parrado, PLDT-Philcom Malaybalay business center office in-charge said. 

Parrado told MindaNews Wednesday the disconnection is due to the former’s migration to new equipment.

He cited the incompatibility of their firm’s new main switch and the device used in interconnection.

Republic Act 7925 or the Public Telecommunications Act of 1995 mandates the National Telecommunication Commission to ensure “fair and reasonable interconnection of facilities of authorized public network operators” and other providers of telecommunications services through appropriate modes of interconnection and at a reasonable and fair level of charges.

The interconnection policy was meant to promote telephone density and provide the “most extensive access to basic telecommunications services available at affordable rates to the public.”

Sotelco operates in the cities of Malaybalay and Valencia, and the towns of Don Carlos, Quezon and Manolo Fortich; while PhilCom, bought by PLDT in 2009, runs exchanges in the cities of Malaybalay, Valencia and Manolo Fortich.

Parrado said the disconnection is only temporary but they have not set the time when it will be fixed.

“Engineering work is on going to address the problem,” he told MindaNews via telephone Wednesday.

He said PLDT Manila, which is facilitating the migration to new equipment has not provided the local business office of the timetable to complete it.

With interconnection, even a call from a line in Malaybalay to a line in Valencia will be a local call. But with the disruption, for a Sotelco line owner to call a neighbor with a Philcom line, long distance rates will be charged.

The disrupted interconnection drew criticism.

“It affects cost of doing business in the province,” Rommel Patcheo, marketing head of the church-run DXDB Radyo Bandilyo and Bandilyo newspaper based here.

He said they should find ways to restore it soonest.

Patcheo said accessibility of the telephone subscribers (of both firms) is also affected.

Valencia City councillor Oliver Owen Garcia told this reporter via SMS that all public utilities including telephone companies are given franchises on condition that they give convenience to the public in terms of service.

“(What they did) is not an action that will provide convenience to the public. Clearly they have violated their franchise,” he added.

Garcia was recently elected as the new president of the Philippine Councillors League Bukidnon chapter, which has a seat as ex-officio member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Sotelco pioneered the telephone industry in Bukidnon in 1985 when the provincial government privatized the Bukidnon Telephone Services, which it ran since the 1960s.

The firm has operated in the province and also extended services to northern Cebu and in Albay, Bicol. Extending further to serve the calling public, calling offices were set up in strategic locations in its areas of operation covering Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro City, Cebu and Albay.

Philcom Corporation opened its Malaybalay phone exchange in the late 1990s, serving as the firm’s competitor up to present. (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News.Net)