While there is a move by government regulators, such as the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to lower the charges for domestic text messaging or SMS and voice calls is welcomed the government should also order telcos to lower international SMS charges.
As of the moment, if you are on a prepaid (prepay or pay-as-you-go, in other countries) with either Globe Telecom and Smart Communications you are paying a standard rate of PHP 15.00 per SMS. SunCellular charges PHP 9.00 and PHP 10.00 for its I-Text and I-Speak prepaid plans, respectively. [Rant about Sun Cellular below] For those with postpaid (paid monthly) subscribers both Globe and Smart charge PHP 10.00 per SMS. Globe and Smart does have international SMS promos however these only cover certain countries.
International SMS is in important necessity for Filipinos especially now that almost everyone has a friend or a relative who is living or working overseas. It is not impossible for the telcos to earn billions from international SMS.
As you would see below big telcos overseas charge way below Globe, Smart and Sun. This can no longer be considered reasonable profit but unjustified greed.
The current rates are one of the highest in the region. From my internet search I have gathered the following data on how much some telcos around the region charge for prepaid plans (Click on the name of the telco to go to my source):
DTAC – Thailand
THB 5.00/SMS sent (PHP 6.58 )
True Move – Thailand
THB 9.00/SMS sent (PHP 11.84)
Telkomsel – Indonesia
IDR 600.00/SMS sent (PHP 2.74)
Excelcomindo – Indonesia
IDR 500.00/SMS sent (PHP 2.28 )
Celcom – Malaysia
MYR 0.50/SMS sent (PHP 6.68 )
SmartTone – Hong Kong
HKD 3.00/SMS sent (PHP16.44)
PCCW Mobile – Hong Kong
HKD 1.50/SMS sent to the Philippines (PHP 8.22)
HKD 2.00/SMS sent to rest of the world (PHP 10.96)
Peoples – Hong Kong
HKD 0.50/SMS sent to the Philippines (PHP 4.93)
HKD 0.90/SMS sent to Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, UAE, India, Japan, Nepal, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Vietnam (PHP 2.74)
HKD 1.50/SMS sent to rest of the world (PHP 8.22)
Mobily – Saudi Arabia
SAR 0.50/SMS sent (PHP 5.70)
As you would have noticed above, majority of the telcos in other countries charge far less than what is charged by Globe, Smart and Sun. Even places richer or slightly richer than the Philippines, we see telcos charging even less.
Now, about SunCellular, while it currently offers the cheapest standard international sms rate it cannot send SMS to a lot of overseas telcos. I have wasted a few hundred pesos just to realize that the sms I’m sending to friends in New Zealand were never received. SUNCELLULAR’S INTERNATIONAL SMS SERVICE IS BROKEN, AVOID!!!
[Currency conversion done on Google at the time of composing this post]