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CTM cuts international call tariff by 25pct, may cut Internet toll

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image Service provider not always to blame for slow surfing speed

CTM announced yesterday that the International Direct Dialing (IDD) tariff will be cut by 25 percent on average and mentioned possible toll reductions for Internet services, which have often been criticized as sluggish. However the company has stressed that there are multiple reasons behind the stalling, including clients’ own problems, and that the operators always take the blame when there’s a delay. The company’s IDD revenue will drop 20 percent due to the new initiative to encourage the use of international phone calls.
In a press briefing at the company’s head office in Taipa, Ebel Cham, Vice President of Consumer Marketing at CTM, introduced the details of the IDD050 tariff reduction program. Cham was asked whether it would be more practical to cut Internet tariffs considering more people use free online international apps and other online communication means for making international calls. Cham said traditional IDD calls by telephones are still in high demand as Internet network coverage in overseas destinations is not always as comprehensive as in Macau, thus Internet calls can be very expensive in some target destinations.
“The network coverage of mobile communication services is comparatively higher in Macau, but if you look at the Internet IDD tariff in neighboring regions, they are actually rather expensive [because of lower network coverage]. So you might not always want to use Internet IDD to talk with friends or relatives overseas. I think the traditional telephone conversation is still in high demand and we will make relevant [tariff] adjustments for various walks of clients accordingly,” said Cham. 
But she also mentioned the possible reduction of Internet service charges: “For data services [Internet] we have also been reviewing our tariff scheme and may reduce the tariff if we successfully manage to cut our operation costs and boost our customer base.”
Asked about Internet users’ frequent complaints about slow Internet surfing speed and their inability to switch to other service providers (CTM is currently the only operator), the VP said there are various reasons for instances of sluggish connection, but users tend to lay all blame on the service provider.
“In some cases the reason is actually that the user’s Internet surfing software is affected by a virus,” she said, “Sometimes the problem is with a websites’ heavy traffic.” Another reason she suggested is that more users are going online for multimedia content, such as music and movies, which requires a lot of data transfer and therefore time for buffering, but as a result the operator takes the blame. She said the company is trying different means to address the speed concern including an earlier announcement of an MOP 1.2 billion investment on network upgrades.
The senior executive was speaking on the sidelines of a briefing for the IDD050 tariff reduction, which will cut rates by 25 percent on average but as much as 49 percent at specific destinations. She said the cut price is expected to cause a drop of 20 percent in IDD revenue, but the company anticipates stimulation of service demand and therefore new revenue to offset the loss.
“We’re more focused on the market reception of the reduction rather than the revenue itself,” she said, adding that IDD revenue constitutes around 10 percent of the company’s sales while a growing part comes from the sale of mobile phone sets.
Cham said currently the company has 170,000 fixed line clients and 730,000 mobile phone subscribers, and they look at the two sections as a whole market without attaching special importance to either of them.
The IDD050 tariff reduction is effective from March 13. The service period is from Monday to Friday, between 6pm and 9am, and Saturday and Sunday round-the-clock.
Under the new charging scheme, residents calling various popular countries and districts will enjoy a significant reduction of differing degrees. Among these, charges to Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines will drop to MOP 2.99 from current MOP 3.99 per minute, representing a 25 percent reduction; for Japan, Singapore, Korea, New Zealand, Portugal, charges will be MOP 2.59 (-13 percent); whereas call to Zhuhai, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the UK (with exception of mobile phone or pager number), the United States and Canada, will charge at MOP 0.89 per minute (-10 percent).
IDD050 to Zhongshan in China will be reduced by 16 percent whereas calls to other parts of China will be reduced by 19 percent. The price of calling a mobile phone or pager number in Australia on Saturday and Sunday will be significantly reduced to MOP 0.99 from MOP1.79 per minute, representing a reduction rate of 45 percent.
The most significant IDD050 reduction rate under the new tariff structure is 49 percent, this will occur where the charge per minute will be reduced from MOP 6.99 to MOP 3.59, covering as many as 23 countries, mostly of them as distant as Vanuatu, Caiman Islands, Bangladesh and Brunei.

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