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Philippine regulator to ease VoIP rules

National Telecommunications Commission hopes to address growing concerns of VoIP providers over interconnection agreements with carriers.
Written by Joel D. Pinaroc, Contributor

PHILIPPINES--The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has proposed new rules regarding interconnection agreements between telecom carriers and voice over IP (VoIP) providers in the country.

NTC Chief Jorge Sarmiento has reportedly said that the proposals are aimed at addressing mounting complaints coming from VoIP firms, which need to "negotiate" separate interconnection agreements with local telephone carriers.

According to a news article by Inquirer.net, the Philippine telecommunications regulator said the rules will tackle the "easing of requirements for interconnection agreements" that VoIP firms are required to sign with telecom carriers before these VoIP providers can offer the service.

One major problem VoIP vendors have is the "difficulties" in "sealing" the interconnection contracts with the telephone carriers, Sarmiento said.

Under the regulator's new set of rules, VoIP providers will only need to sign a single interconnection agreement with a telephone carrier.

The proposals will also compel VoIP vendors to pay "routing" charges for calls passing through other telephone carriers with no existing interconnection deal with the VoIP firm, instead of paying additional interconnection fees to each telephone network, Sarmiento noted.

Sarmiento added that the NTC may put a cap on the routing charges.

The executive did not disclosed the proposed routing fees, saying only that a hearing on the proposed rules will be conducted by the NTC this month.

According to the NTC, there are more than 20 service providers currently offering VoIP. But the number of VoIP providers is larger, considering thousands of small cyber cafes and Internet shops that are now offering VoIP and pitching the service as a cheaper alternative to long distance telephone calls.

Joel D. Pinaroc is a freelance IT journalist based in the Philippines.

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