Duterte signs law allowing cellphone numbers “forever”

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DAVAO CITY (February 20) — President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law that will allow mobile users to keep their numbers “forever”, even if they switched to other service providers.

As it is now, numbers are locked to specific service providers. With the new law, Telecommunications companies should allow subscribers to keep their numbers “completely free of charge;”.

With the signing of Telecommunications companies should be allow subscribers to keep their numbers “completely free of charge,” according to the measure. (Republic Act. 11202), all qualified subscribers should be provided with Mobile Number Portability (MNP) completely free of charge and information on MNPs including its features.

Globe Telecom reported 74.1 million mobile subscribers at the end of 2018 while PLDT Inc had 58 million at the end of September 2018.

Duterte signed the law on Feb. 8 but the copy was released to the media yesterday, February 19.

The logic behind the passage of the law is, “To fosters the freedom to choose and to respond to quality, price, and other relevant considerations, without the consumers having to change their mobile numbers whenever they change mobile service providers or subscription plans.”

It is also meant to encourage mobile service providers to compete with each other to provide consumers with the best overall value that they can offer.

The law explained “Mobile Number Portability represents an opportunity to rebalance the relationship between mobile service providers and consumers in a vibrant economy and a well-served consumer sector,” it added.

It further states that “porting process,” wherein a number is moved between carriers or subscription plans, should not take more than 48 hours,.”

The law imposes a fine of up to P1 million and revocation of a telecommunications firm’s franchise to operate for the fifth and subsequent instances if the mobile number portability is “unjustly refused even after mediation.”

The National Telecommunications Commission was also authorized by the law to award up to P40,000 per subscriber for damages.

The law also authorizes the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to impose fines against public telecommunications entities (PTEs) for violations of the act.

A fine of PHP10,000 will be imposed against PTEs when portability is not performed within the allowed period and PHP40,000 where MNP is unjustly refused even after mediation.

For the fifth and subsequent instances if MNP is unjustly refused, PTEs will be fined with PHP4,000 up to PHP1 million and may risk losing their franchise to operate.

Within 90 days from the effectivity of the Act, the NTC, as the government entity mandated to implement nationwide MNP, must coordinate with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the National Privacy Commission (NPC), the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) and other concerned agencies and promulgate rules and regulations and other issuances as may be necessary to ensure the effective implementation of this Act.

Mobile service providers must also comply with the provisions of this Act, and set up a mechanism for the purpose of implementing nationwide MNP within six months from the promulgation of rules and regulations.

The Act, which will take effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in any newspaper of general circulation.

Within six months from the promulgation of the rules and regulations, mobile service providers shall comply with the provisions of this Act, and set up a mechanism for the purpose of implementing nationwide MNP.-NewsLine.ph

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