SMART DENIES UNFAIR ACTS AGAINST DITO
FRANCIS EARL CUETO
The Manila Times
SMART Communications on Friday insisted that they are not engaged in any act constituting abuse of dominant position or any other anticompetitive behavior as accused by the third telco player DITO Telecommunity. In a statement, Smart said that they have “not yet received the complaint filed by DITO Telecommunity Corp.” with the Philippine Competition Commission. But the company said they previously entered into an interconnection agreement with DITO in February 2021 to allow inter-network calls between their respective subscribers. However, Smart said that shortly after DITO’s commercial launch, they detected fraudulent international bypass traffic from DITO’s network to Smart subscribers. “Smart promptly notified DITO. International calls (calls from abroad to the Philippines) using DITO SIMs that should have been subject to proper toll rates, came through Smart’s network as local calls with DITO mobile numbers as caller IDs. This has resulted in poor customer experience and revenue losses on the part of Smart,” the statement said. “It must be emphasized that DITO’s vulnerable network has adversely affected SMART subscribers, not only in the form of low-grade calls from masked DITO numbers, but also through spam or robot calls and scams from overseas sources that are difficult to trace. Also, with the proliferation of quishing, smishing and other similar machinations to perpetrate fraud against the Filipino public, illegal bypass calls are enabling tools for fraudsters and must therefore be curbed at the outset,” it added. The telecom company also claimed that their robust monitoring and fraud detection systems were able to track and block such illegal calls emanating from its end. Smart said DITO requested additional interconnection capacity, which they made clear that they would only agree to if DITO ensured that the illegal bypass traffic is mitigated or avoided to protect Smart and its subscribers. The company cited the establishment of operational coordination and fraud detection measures to mitigate, track and block illegal bypass traffic, and; the signing by DITO of a memorandum of agreement with Smart, which shall set out the procedures for handling any bypass activity, including the formula for computation of penalties for said fraudulent calls. Smart asked DITO to compensate it for the minutes of bypass traffic which DITO failed to detect and block, for the period from July 2021 to the current date. “We stress that DITO’s request for capacity augmentation must be evaluated from the lens of fairness and that the duty to interconnect must not be used as a shield for the perpetuation of fraud to the detriment of Smart subscribers, with concomitant adverse financial impact to Smart,” Smart said in their statement.