Monday, April 27, 2009

改革流動網絡付費機制 勿拖延

今朝一覺醒來,各位用固網或手機電話通話,應該與以前沒有異樣,也沒有什麼接駁問題吧。不過,在一般用戶沒有留意之下,今年4月27日電訊業界之間已經發生了微妙變化,值得廣大用戶注意。你知道這變化是什麼?

近年,香港與國際趨勢一致地發展固定及流動網絡匯流,電訊管理局在諮詢後於2007年的今日,發表諮詢結果,開放固定及流動網絡的市場的匯流,其中一項重要規管指引決定,關於「網絡商與網絡商之間互連收費原則」,把一直沿用的「流動網絡付費」為本的固定、流動網絡互連費用規管指引,訂下兩年的過渡期,在今天這過渡期剛好完結並正式撤銷。

市場利益複雜矛盾

這是什麼意思?原來,在電訊行業中不同的電訊公司維持「互連互通」,讓一家電訊公司的用戶可以致電給另外一家電訊公司的用戶,通常致電一方要向接收一方要付網絡商互連費用,雖然在香港固網之間通話不設時間收費,但其實固網電訊公司仍互相計算交收這個費用,在固定及流動網絡之間,更一直以單一流動網絡方面向固網公司付費,部分原因可能是流動網絡的收費計劃包含計時收費。從流動網絡商角度,當然覺得不公平,尤其是因為由固網致電流動網絡的量較相反方為高,連推銷性質的電話也以針對流動電話號碼居多,雙方出現了不平衡,固網方尤其是最大的固網商電訊盈科,得到數以億計的收益。但在今天「流動網絡付費」協議撤銷後,網絡商之間的互連收費怎辦?基本上,電訊管理局期望各網絡商自由商討及簽訂互連費用協議。

這互連費用有什麼可能的計算方法?第一,可以傳統做法由撥電方付費,但大型固網商對這方法會有很大顧慮;第二,若雙方同意用量相約,為省卻瑣碎計算收費的成本,亦可協議不互相收互連費,當然,也可以協議保持現狀,由流動網絡方付費。固網商利益所在固然希望如此,但流動網絡商將不會贊同。

至今為止,據聞業界網絡商之間部分已達成協議,互不計較互連收費,但很多網絡商之間其實仍未談得攏,尤其是與最大的固網商。換句話說,今天「流動網絡付費」機制撤銷之時,很多網絡商之間的互連根本並未有新協議,即是很多網絡與網絡之間的通話互連收費與否或多少,是未達共識的,但雖然如此,相信今天應該沒有出現拒絕往來互連的情況,加上互連費一向並不直接反映在電訊用戶收費中,故此大多數客戶完全察覺不到這個變化。

官方未有主動介入

電訊商一方面不希望出現服務中斷,對用戶和社會造成不良影響,另一方面,電訊管理局在今年4月初發出的通告也清楚指出「如電訊網絡因上述決定生效而出現不能互連的可能性,電訊總監會毫不猶疑運用法定權力,指令網絡商間維持『互連互通』制度」,但在開放市場規管、發展固定和流動網絡,以及服務匯流政策的前題下,電訊管理局認為現階段無須引用權力介入規管固定與流動互連費用。

電訊商之間的商業談判在今日以後仍可在電訊管理局不介入之下繼續進行,電訊管理局「鼓勵固定及流動網絡服務商儘早達成協議,並會繼續監察及因應情況協助電訊商間的談判」,但強調「保留運用其規管權力為確保公眾利益不會受損的最終對策」。

筆者認同電訊管理局開放電訊市場推動固定及流動網絡服務匯流的政策目標、改革流動網絡付費機制的方向,以及不先積極介入的規管手段,但作為對用戶及公眾利益可有重大影響的政策及規管,用戶和大眾知情始終是重要的。雖然筆者同意發生網絡中斷互連的機會很低,但即使不少網絡商之間沒有協議但保持互連,網絡商之間可能仍在計算用量,根據單方面「定價」發單給對方,收到的方面也不理會,在沒協議下互相要求的收費積存愈多的話,就有可能成為「計時炸彈」,因此不適宜拖延過久不作處理。

刊載於《信報財經新聞》2009年4月27日

11 Comments:

At 9:35 AM, Blogger Henry Chan said...

Hi, all,

I agree that the mobile phone users should pay the connection charges and the connection period charges.

 
At 9:41 AM, Blogger Charles Mok said...

Henry, you misunderstand the whole regime. Mobile users do not directly pay the interconnection charge. The mobile network (operator) pays (in the old regime). Now, in the new regime, that is supposed to be "opened up to the market to decide" so the spirit is that they should no longer have to pay that, or pay much less (but the fixed network incumbent would object). Whether the mobile networks would reward the customers by lowering their charges is another matter.

 
At 12:19 PM, Blogger Henry Chan said...

Thanks, Charles,

Thanks for your explanation because this article is talking about the Mobile network and the Fixed network payment issues. My concept is so simple that the "users" pay for their own usages.

 
At 12:32 PM, Blogger Charles Mok said...

The article was to explain the interconnection charges between the operators which form part of the cost (and hence price) to consumers, and the regulatory regime behind it all.

 
At 1:57 PM, Blogger Henry Chan said...

Thanks, Charles,

Interconnection means that there must have sender and receiver. Therefore the sender should pay all the charges incurred from my point of view.

 
At 3:05 PM, Blogger Charles Mok said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3:06 PM, Blogger Charles Mok said...

Companies connect.
Consumers do not connect directly.
It is important from a telecom industry and regulatory view to tell the difference.
My purpose is not inform to avoid the confusion. But I have not been so successful with you yet, Henry! :)

 
At 3:30 PM, Blogger Henry Chan said...

Thanks, Charles,

I think that I know what you mean.
You point out one important message:
Companies connect but Consumers do not connect directly.
Actually, one company may send some messages to the other companies therefore the sender (company) should pay all the charges incurred from my point of view. I assume that I understand therefore please feel free not to explain to me any more. Please let me think that I am still not stupid. By the way, thanks for your explanation. God bless all of us in this chaotic environment because of the wide spread of the deadly swine flu.

 
At 8:34 AM, Blogger Henry Chan said...

Hi, Charles,

Forgive me to say a few words about this issue. The mobile users only pay a little amount of money per month but the money can support the Mobile network and Fixed network companies. It is so incredible. As the Indian famous Gandhi said that "the world resources can satisfy the needs of everyone but it can not satisfy the greedy of one man." God bless all of us.

 
At 12:56 AM, Blogger Gareth Wong said...

This is a perfect example of why I don't yet fully subscribe to idea of 'blogging', as obviously, it is very democratising the media.

'interconnect' fee is a very important issue for the telecom world (as important as roaming fees, which consumers would understand more).

I find it is very difficult as a lot of times our previous minutes/hours would be spent in educating the non target audience and hence resources is wasted.

to stay on topic:

Agree with the thesis which interconnect fee should be a free market, but sadly, it might be too closed for that to happen, unless supported by the regulators and in some way the market. This may pave the way and set an example for the rest of the world!

but most likely europe and Rest of the world would still consider HK a 'spec' and would not consider the tiny island as role model.. sadly.

@GarethWong

 
At 7:56 PM, Blogger Charles Mok said...

Just heard news that there indeed may be trouble brewing...a real time bomb. Have been contacting by some in the industry and will be watching closely and doing my best to help. Government really has to do something as the referee now!

 

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