MediaToday
News | Wednesday, 07 January 2009

Compulsory introduction of mobile phone spending mechanism not on the cards - MCA

Charlot Zahra

The Malta Communications Authority (MCA) excluded the compulsory introduction of a mechanism which would enable mobile phone users to gauge their spending after each call.
Post-paid mobile telephony customers are currently in the dark with regard to their mobile phone spending prior to receiving their bill two months later.
Asked whether the MCA agreed with the compulsory introduction of a system with which calls and expenditure may be tracked immediately, a spokesperson for the Authority told Business Today:
“Individual operators may choose to provide such a facility to verify the usage of their mobile phone services as a ‘value added’ service to their subscribers on a competitive and voluntary basis.
“The MCA welcomes and encourages all initiatives which serve to provide increased tariff transparency to subscribers,” the MCA spokesperson added.
However, the MCA noted that “the generally accepted form of expenditure control in the telephony sector is the use of pre-paid services.
The MCA said it was of the view that “those subscribers who wish to have a simple means of controlling their expenditure on telephony services generally opt for pre-paid services, which allow verification of the cost of every communication.”
Furthermore, the MCA spokesperson said that the European Commission had proposed to introduce certain measures to counteract “bill-shock” when mobile telephony subscribers made use of roaming data services within the EU.
“The proposed measures are intended to increase the transparency of charges and allow consumers to cap their bills for data services whilst roaming,” the MCA spokesperson insisted.
Asked regarding the MCA’s position on the regulation of mobile phone spending as proposed by Alternattiva Demokratika (AD), the Authority’s spokesperson explained that “the regulation of electronic communications services is carried out according to the parameters set by the European framework which establishes the powers of National Regulatory Authorities such as the MCA.
“It is therefore important to remember that not all that may be proposed to the MCA can be enforced here and certainly never when such a measure would be inconsistent with the European framework,” the MCA spokesperson told Business Today.

AD’s proposal
On 20 December 2008, AD called on the MCA “to ensure that mobile phone operators set up a monitoring system on mobile phone spending.
Party chairperson Arnold Cassola said in a press statement that “due to the complexity and variety of pre-paid and post-paid contracts and with the introduction of mobile phone number portability, a mobile phone user often does not know the amount he has spent on a call, on a SMS, MMS or data connectivity”.
“Post-paid clients will only be able to check the details of their spendings after receiving their monthly bill, while prepaid clients are left completely in the dark,” Cassola insisted.
On his part, AD’s spokesperson for IT and Communication Henrik Piski explained that in order to introduce a better spending control system for mobile phone clients, the party was “asking the regulator to impose a spending control system for mobile phone users whereby after each provision of any mobile phone service, the mobile phone operator immediately informs the customer of the price of the delivered service”.
“This service is even more essential when the client is using the roaming facility as it is absolutely impossible for the clients to verify and control the mobile phones costs while abroad,” Piski insisted.

czahra@mediatoday.com.mt

 

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07 January 2009
ISSUE NO. 564

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