By: Aerol John Pateña
MANILA — The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) believes a law that will allow mobile phone users to keep their numbers even after they change service providers will promote competition in the local telecommunications industry.
In a statement on Wednesday, DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said Republic Act 11202 or the Mobile Number Portability Act will encourage mobile network operators to deliver quality services to their subscribers.
“We hail the passage of this game-changing policy, which shifts the telecommunication services paradigm to be more consumer-centric,” Rio said.
“The law will cultivate a sense of urgency for telcos to deliver only the best service since subscribers now won’t hesitate to choose what’s best for their money’s worth,” he added.
The Mobile Number Portability Act will enable consumers to keep their mobile numbers even if they switch service providers or change their subscription to postpaid to prepaid and vice versa free of charge.
Mobile users will likewise not be charged any interconnection fee for domestic calls and texts.
The DICT vowed that it will continue implementing policies that will stimulate competition and further improve telco services.
“We look forward to policies like the Open Access and Spectrum Management to also get the same attention from our legislators in order to ride the momentum we are on now,” Rio said.
For its part, the National Privacy Commission (NPC) said it will coordinate with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to ensure the security of the personal data of subscribers that will be handled by network operators.
“In the implementation of the Mobile Number Portability Act, the NTC, together with the NPC, shall endeavor to ensure that public telecommunications entities handling the subscribers’ personal data shall strictly adhere to the provisions of the Data Privacy Act and provide safeguards to protect said personal data in the course of porting activities, bearing in mind the data privacy rights of the subscribers,” Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro said.
The NPC chief said the Data Privacy Act allows subscribers to obtain their personal data in an electronic or structured format from personal information controllers, if such is being processed through electronic means, and enables the further use of such information.
Meanwhile, telco giants PLDT-Smart Communications and Globe Telecom welcome the passage of the law and vowed to work with the government in crafting its implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
“Mobile number portability is provided in the new franchise of Smart. We support the new law that mandates it and will work with the government and other operators to put in place the systems needed to properly implement it,” according to PLDT and Smart Head of Public Affairs Ramon Isberto.
On the other hand, Globe general counsel Atty. Froilan Castelo said: “We will work with the NTC in the formulation of the implementing rules to make the number portability policy fair for both to the consumers and to Globe.”
Under the law, the NTC, which is the government agency in charge of the implementation of the mobile number portability, must coordinate with the DICT, NPC, Philippine Competition Commission and other concerned agencies to promulgate the IRR within 90 days from its effectivity.
Mobile service providers must also comply with the provisions of this Act, and set up a mechanism for the purpose of implementing nationwide mobile number portability within six months from the promulgation of rules and regulations.
The NTC is also authorized to impose fines against public telecommunication entities for violations of the act. (PNA)