House passes mobile number portability bill on final reading

The House of Representatives approved on Monday, Sept. 10, on third and final reading a bill that allows mobile users to keep their phone numbers even as they switch network providers.

Voting 216-0 with no abstention, the lower chamber passed House Bill No. 7652 or the “Mobile Number Portability Act” which is set to institutionalize Mobile Number Portability (MNP) in the country.

“This effectively reduces the barriers towards switching providers and can serve to break the dominance of current telcos in the country. Since subscribers will no longer have to worry about the cost of switching networks, such as having to inform people about the change, update relevant forms, and possibly miss important calls, they will be more willing to try new network providers,” said Tarlac representative Victor A. Yap.

Yap, who chairs the lower chamber’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Committee, was one of the bill’s main proponents and served as its sponsor.

“Mobile phone users hold property rights over their numbers. Over years of use, they start to contain vital information, which also allows users to connect with another person. Forcing them to surrender these numbers when changing networks is akin to depriving them of a vital commodity, especially in today’s age — the digital age,” added Yap.

According to the ICT committee chair, the bill would allow subscribers to switch from postpaid to prepaid subscription and vice-versa, without having to change their mobile numbers.

Under the MNP bill, the recipient provider or telco that a subscriber wishes to move to, must transmit a consumer’s MNP application to the their current service provider or donor provider. The donor provider must then transmit the notice of clearance to the recipient provider so that the number can be cleared for porting and activated under the new network.

Should a client have any existing financial obligation, they will be given three working days to settle their unpaid dues. If a client does not pay these fees after the three-day period, the donor provider will notify the recipient provider of the non-payment.

While a processing a subscriber’s move to a different network, the donor provider, must continue providing them with all mobile telecommunications services until an otherwise specified date.

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