Gatchalian urges telcos to implement Mobile Number Portability Act

Published January 2, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Hannah Torregoza and Charissa Luci-Atienza

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday called on telecommunication companies (telcos) to expedite the implementation of the Mobile Number Portability Act (MNPA) and not make consumers wait until next year to enjoy the benefits of the new law.

Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian

Gatchalian, principal author of the MNPA, pointed out that mobile number portability should be available within six (6) months from the promulgation of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), as provided for under Section 11 of Republic Act 11202.

The law was signed in February 2019; the IRR was issued on June 11, 2019 and took effect on July 2, 2019. But there is still no mechanism in place for the MNPA’s implementation.

Gatchalian said telcos should immediately come up with a mechanism for the law’s implementation now that telecom giants Smart and Globe, and newcomer Dito Telecommunity, announced that they have agreed to get US-based Syniverse to provide mobile number portability services.

“Setting mobile number portability for the second half of 2021 is unacceptable. Our consumers need not wait that long in order for them to be able to have that freedom to avail of the services they want,” Gatchalian said.

“We are denying the right of every user to choose what is best for them,” he further said.

Globe executives earlier argued that foreign countries that implemented mobile number portability took 27 months or a little over two years to make the shift beginning from the issuance of the IRR.

But Gatchalian said that during the bicameral conference, the telcos assured that they will be able to comply with the rules on mobile number portability during the technical working group (TWG) meeting and even in public hearings.

In fact, the senator said both Globe and Smart have agreed that the provision on mobile number portability be included in the renewal of their franchises during the 17th Congress.

“To allow the telcos to renege on their commitments in fulfilling their legal obligations based on other countries’ implementation is tantamount to consenting to another scheme of the duopoly,” Gatchalian said.

“This will frustrate competition and the Filipino consumer will have no other choice but to put up with their underwhelmingly poor and expensive services,” he stressed.

The law specifically provides mobile services subscribers with the option of keeping their existing mobile numbers even if they switch networks or mode of subscription services from prepaid to postpaid, and vice versa.

Under the law, Public Telecommunications Entities (PTEs) are prohibited from locking-in mobile devices to their respective network, regardless whether the device is sold as a unit or under a service contract.

Under the law, mobile services subscribers do not have to pay a fee when they decide to retain their existing mobile number after moving from one mobile service provider to another or changing the type of subscription from postpaid to prepaid or vice versa.

The law also cancels the interconnection fees charged to subscribers for calling or texting across different networks.

Gatchalian said that currently, mobile services subscribers are charged an additional P0.50 per minute for calls and P0.05 for text messages to different networks.

In 2016, these interconnection fees generated a total revenue of P3.2-billion for one telco giant.

“The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) should ensure that the three mobile service providers will implement the mobile portability in accordance with the intent of the law,” Gatchalian said.

The lawmaker warned that mobile service providers may face the maximum fine of up to P1-million and revocation of the PTE’s operating franchises if they unjustly refuse to provide mobile number portability services on their fifth violation.