Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Filipinos gain right to ensure numbers really are mobile

Jun 19. 2019
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FROM next month, telecoms subscribers in the Philippines will be allowed to keep their current mobile numbers even when switching between PLDT and Globe Telecom and an eventual third mobile player backed by China Telecom.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued on June 11 its rules for the Mobile Number Portability Act, whose goal is to promote competition in the telecommunication industry. The NTC said on Tuesday the rules would become effective on July 2.

The guidelines outlined how the telco players would implement the law, which included a contentious provision that removed all interconnection fees for local calls and text messaging.

The law also allowed subscribers to keep their numbers when switching between prepaid and postpaid plans from the same telco. The NTC said no fees and charges would be collected from subscribers.

The NTC said number portability applications should be processed within 48 hours. Processing time for those switching between postpaid and prepaid plans from the same telco would take no more than 24 hours. PLDT spokesperson Ramon Isberto said the telco supported mobile number portability but questioned the removal of interconnection fees.

“We have expressed our reservations, on constitutional grounds, regarding the rider provision in the law, which removes the interconnection fees between operators,” Isberto said. It was unclear if the company would take further action.

“At this point, we are just registering our reservation,” he said.

Number portability schemes had been proposed in previous years. However, the hanging concern was how it would be implemented and who would foot the bill.

For the latest legislation, the NTC said the telcos would need to select a mobile number portability service provider, the entity that will provide the porting services. The company will maintain an electronic database, which will include a subscriber’s porting history without the individual’s personal information.

Under the rules, the telcos will share in the costs for software and hardware needs of the number portability service provider. They should also agree on operating and maintenance expenses.

The NTC said not all subscribers could avail themselves of number portability. Restrictions cover those with outstanding debts, locked devices or those seeking to again switch less than 60 days after a ported number has been activated. Also restricted are subscribers blacklisted due to fraudulent activities.

Number portability is being implemented in the Philippines as a growing number of subscribers shift to internet-based messaging platforms, some of which do not require mobile numbers.


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