Mobile Number Portability bill up for plenary approval

Cellphone users can soon keep their numbers even when switching providers as the House of Representatives gets ready to tackle the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) bill in plenary.

The House information and communications technology (ICT) committee endorsed House Bill No. 7652 or the “Mobile Number Portability Act ” for plenary approval last month, paving the way for debate and amendments.

“Through long and consistent use, a mobile phone user acquires property rights over their phone number. They contain vital information and connect users to one another. Forcing them to surrender these numbers when changing networks is akin to depriving them of a vital commodity, especially in the digital world,” Tarlac second district Rep. Victor A. Yap, one of bill’s authors, said.

Yap, who chairs the ICT committee, added that the bill would let phone subscribers shift from one network to another, as well as switch from postpaid to prepaid subscription or vice-versa, without having to change their mobile numbers.

“This bill is revolutionary in that it would break the dominance of current telcos in the industry by reducing barriers to switching. With mobile phone users no longer being burdened with the cost of switching networks such as having to inform people about the change, updating relevant forms, and missing important calls, they will be more willing to try new players. This can spur competition and improve PTEs’ service,” said Yap.

Under the MNP bill, a mobile phone subscriber must notify his or her service provider that currently provide services to a subscriber, within 24 hours of his or her desire to shift to the another network.

Should a client have any existing financial obligation, they will then be given three working days to settle their unpaid dues. If a client does not pay these fees within the specified time, the original telco will notify the receipient the non-payment.

Subscribers who wish to switch their locked devices to another provider are also covered under the MNP.

PTEs that violate the proposed law will be fined by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) of an amount starting from P100,000 to P300,000 for the first offense, and P400,000 to P600,000 for the second offense.

Subsequent offenses, meanwhile, will be fined at an amount that will range from P700,000 to P1 million as well as cancel a PTE’s franchise to operate.

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