Malacanang asked to certify ‘Lifetime Cellphone Number Act’ as urgent

In light of the possible entry of a new telco player next year, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian has called on Malacanang to certify as urgent the bill that would allow users to “easily transfer network providers without changing their preferred mobile numbers”.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian

Gatchalian is the principal author of the Lifetime Cellphone Number Act (Senate Bill 1636), a substitute bill to his earlier version Senate Bill 1237. The bill is also known as Number Portability Act.

Under the measure, mobile subscribers are given the preference to move to other network providers while retaining their existing mobile numbers.

“This would actually reinforce government’s campaign to break the existing duopoly in the telco industry. If it’s really the government’s priority to fix the telecommunications industry in the country, the President would need to certify this bill first,” he explained.

“We need to understand that the problem should be approached on both ends. On the one hand, you open the field and encourage participation from other players. On the other, you give your consumers the flexibility on which service they want without losing their digital identity,” he added.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), through deputy commissioner Edgardo Cabarios, has expressed confidence that the proposed law will be approved by Congress.

China Telecoms has been endorsed by the Chinese government to invest in the Philippine’s multi-billion telecommunications industry during the bilateral talks President Rodrigo Duterte had with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang last month.

Malacanang has announced that it is directing the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the NTC to expedite the approval of necessary licenses and permits within seven days upon receipt or completion of requirements.

President Duterte gave a directive to make the third player operational for local competition within the first three months of 2018.

“The third player is a great welcome. If we have more players, more services will be added. Prices will be lower and competition shall be healthier. It will be to our best advantage as consumers,” the senator added.

He explained that through the measure, telecommunication carriers will be compelled to offer better deals as a result of shifting network preferences. This will give consumers the freedom to choose what they truly need.

The senator added that similar pieces of legislation were adopted in more than 100 countries across the globe.

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