Call for mobile number portability snowballs in Senate

Saying he is frustrated by the continuing negative impact of poor competition among telecommunications firms, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian is pushing for the passage of a measure seeking to implement a mobile number portability (MNP) policy.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian

Earlier, Senate president Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III urged the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to step in and direct the country’s telcos to adopt MNP to spur competition in the sector.

Gatchalian, however, wants to use of the force of the law to accomplish the same objective. Thus, he filed Senate Bill No. 1237, otherwise known as the Mobile Number Portability Act, which would allow consumers to retain their existing cellular phone numbers when switching to a different cellular service provider.

“The lack of consumer mobility in the telco industry leaves consumers with little choice but to suffer through inferior service for the sake of convenience. Allowing consumers to retain their mobile identity when switching service providers would force telcos to engage in genuine competition and improve their services if they want to persuade their existing customers to stay with them,” said Gatchalian.

Gatchalian has utilized the committee as a platform to advocate for greater competition in the telecommunications industry, conducting several hearings on the matter.

Based on the hearings he has conducted as chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, Gatchalian said he is convinced that serious regulatory reforms are needed to weed out anti-competitive behavior within the telco industry and improve the quality of services provided by industry players.

One such reform is to grant the NTC “super powers” so that the body can better exercise its vital regulatory functions in the telco industry.

“Unfortunately, some of these reforms will take more time to implement. Mobile Number Portability, however, is a simple yet effective policy that can be implemented within a shorter time table. We need to prioritize it so that we can give consumers immediate relief from the unfair burden of inferior mobile phone services,” said Gatchalian.

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