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Telcos told to roll out mobile number portability law in 2020

TELECOMMUNICATIONS companies Globe, Smart and third player Dito were reminded Monday to fulfill their commitment to roll out the awaited Mobile Number Portability Act (MNPA) in phases within the year.

“This means [cell phone] subscribers will be able to switch networks or change subscriptions without losing the mobile numbers they currently use,” Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said Monday.

Gatchalian reminded the three telcos that they are expected to “implement the MNPA, even in phases, as long as it will be done within the first six months of this year.”

The senator suggested that telcos may opt to “implement mobile porting for postpaid subscribers first within this year and after that, they can focus on the mobile number portability of prepaid subscribers next.”

As principal author of the new law to be known as the Lifetime Cellphone Number Act, Gatchalian had been meeting with local telco representatives, as well as global technology service provider Syniverse to explore options to expedite implementation of the mobile number portability services in the Philippines.

He noted that telcos estimate the process of integration, interoperability and other technical preparations would “take some time,” projecting that mobile number portability services will likely be ready “by the second half of 2021.”

Gatchalian cautioned, however, that “stretching the deadline that long is a disservice to Filipino consumers who are already fed up with the underwhelmingly poor and expensive services.”

He recalled the telcos assuring the Senate panel that the techonology needed to implement it is already available, which the senator took to mean this will facilitate the process. “They said when we were conducting hearings on this law that the technology is there and it’s easy to implement it. So I was surprised when they said our people must wait 18 months,” a dismayed Gatchalian added in Filipino.

Upon its implementation, the remedial legislation will, likewise, remove the interconnection fees charged to subscribers for calling and texting across different networks.

Despite the delay, Gatchalian expects the mobile number portability law to be fully implement  within year 2020, vowing to closely monitor compliance with the new law.

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