MNP law seen benefiting telcos, users
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry advocates cheered the signing of the Mobile Number Portability Act, which allowed subscribers to keep their phone numbers even when switching telco providers.
And while the law competes with changing trends such as the steady shift to internet-based messaging—which does not always require a phone—and the decades-long practice of many subscribers of keeping multiple SIM cards, advocates contend that it provides a powerful competitive boost given the upcoming entry of a new mobile player.
“It’s not a magic bullet but it’s a competition enhancing measure that luckily passed Congress,” Pierre Galla, cofounder of Democracy.Net.PH, said of the law that was signed by President Duterte on Feb. 8.
Mary Grace Mirandilla-Santos, lead convenor of the Better Broadband Alliance, said the law also helped close the gap with best practices seen in neighbors in the Asean.
Under the law, the telcos should allow subscribers moving to a rival network to keep their existing numbers without any charges. This also applies to those switching between prepaid and postpaid accounts.
The numbers will keep the same prefixes that currently serve as distinguishing markers among telco. It is expected that the telcos will implement changes in the way they manage their numbers databases.
Costs may go down as the law mandates the removal of all interconnection fees for local calls and text messaging.
Subscribers have long cited the loss of their mobile number as a disincentive to switch providers. But many of them, mainly those on prepaid services that account for 95 percent of all mobile users in the country, have learned to defeat that mechanism by buying multiple SIM cards.
Data from PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom showed there were over 120 million SIM cards compared to a population of about 100 million as of the third quarter of 2018.
The telcos can also benefit as Galla said portability would make it easier for them to entice prepaid consumers to switch to postpaid plans.
In the meantime, the National Privacy Commission said the Mobile Number Portability law would give Filipinos control over their data.
NPC said it supported the proper implementation of this law that aimed to promote consumer welfare and foster innovation and competition in the telecommunication industry.
Privacy Commissioner Raymund Enriquez Liboro said the law was an embodiment of the user’s right to data portability, which was provided in the country’s data privacy law. The right allows a user to get his personal data from one company and transfer them to another, assuring the user that he has full control of his data.
Telco providers are now awaiting the release of the law’s implementing rules, which the National Telecommunications Commission will issue within 90 days of the law’s effectivity.