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Telcos set mobile number portability for late 2021

/ 04:16 AM December 27, 2019

Telco subscribers can retain their mobile numbers despite switching networks starting the latter part of 2021.

This was the estimate provided by telcos PLDT Inc., Globe Telecom and Dito Telecommunity, which jointly announced on Thursday a milestone in the implementation of the Mobile Number Portability Act, which was signed into law last February.

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Giants PLDT, Globe and new kid on the block Dito, which was expected to launch commercial services starting the middle of 2020, said they tapped US-based Syniverse to act as the mobile number portability service provider.Syniverse will act as the clearinghouse, a role that includes providing number portability services for the telcos and also to secure and maintain the database of numbers and other related records.

Mobile number portability is being implemented as the Department of Information

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and Communications Technology and the National Telecommunications Com­­­m­ission (NTC) seek to improve competition in the telco industry.But it also comes as a growing number of subscribers shift to internet-based messaging platforms, some of which do not require mobile numbers.

In the joint statement, the telcos said number portability would be implemented faster in the Philippines versus other jurisdictions.

It said integration and interoperability would be concluded “no later than 18 months from setting up of the support mechanism.” This means number portability services would be ready by the second half of 2021.

The telcos said the same process takes 27 months in other countries from the issuance of the implementing rules. The Philippines issued its rules last July.Number portability in the Philippines, which also covers switching between prepaid and postpaid plans, will also be free of charge to the subscriber.

“We’ve taken the key steps forward but there’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of technical preparations. We at PLDT and Smart have geared up for this,” Alfredo Panlilio, PLDT chief revenue officer and president of Smart Communications, said in the statement.

“Our utmost priority is to ensure that the experience of our customers is seamless and of utmost convenience should they decide to port their numbers. We are one with the government in having our customers enjoy global mobile practices,” Gil Genio, Globe chief technology and infor­mation officer and chief strat­egy officer, said in the same statement.The NTC said not all subscribers could avail 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.The guidelines also included a contentious provision that removed all interconnection fees for local calls and text messaging. This provision was earlier questioned by some of the incumbents.

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

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