Friday, May 31, 2024

Smart hits ‘unpreparedness’ of Globe for mobile number portability

An exasperated Smart Communications on Thursday, Oct. 7, called on its rival Globe Telecom to remedy and resolve the “serious and persistent concerns” affecting Globe customers wanting to port in or transfer to Smart.

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The PLDT-owned operator said former Globe subscribers have been “unable to [transfer] seamlessly and without fault or difficulty” due to Globe’s “system-readiness issues and general unpreparedness” to implement the Mobile Number Portability Act (Republic Act No. 11202) or the MNP Law.

The MNP Law guarantees customers the ease of switching network within the mandatory period of 48 hours without the need of changing their mobile number starting September 30, 2021, and prohibits the denial or withholding of, or delay in providing, the benefits of the law to a qualified customer. 

Smart’s move comes a day after it formally asked the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to look into why Globe’s mobile service provider GOMO had failed to take part in the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) launch last September 30.

Globe had advised customers on September 29 that MNP will be available on GOMO only this month, due to “unavoidable technical issues”.

In a letter to Globe copied to NTC commissioner Gamaliel A. Cordoba, Smart regulatory affairs manager Kenneth E. Regañon wrote, “Globe’s constructive denial of its customers’ choice to switch to Smart seamlessly without the hassle of changing their mobile number, which seemingly stem from system errors and the apparent general unpreparedness of Globe sales force to implement the MNP Law, ultimately compromise, if not maim the spirit of the law, which is to honor and protect the customers’ choice of their preferred network.

“Given all the serious shortcomings in the first 72 hours, carried over and magnified in the first week of implementation of the MNP Law with no committed timelines for permanent fixes, the pressing issues are beyond just ‘hiccups’.”

Smart has substantiated its concerns in three separate letters over the past week, submitted to the Telecommunications Connectivity Inc. (TCI), the joint venture of the mobile service providers that provides number porting services under the MNP Law.

Smart has listed the following Globe acts and omissions that “frustrate” the exercise by Globe customers of their right to switch to Smart seamlessly without changing their mobile number:

  • The rejection by the Globe system of the “porting” or transfer request of a Globe customer with a Globe-issued valid unique subscriber codes (USCs). A USC constitutes proof that the customer has been pre-cleared by Globe for transfer to Smart. However, when the Globe customer comes to Smart stores to transfer to Smart, Globe’s system rejects the request due to “bundled services”.  Globe has admitted that this is a system error and that the customer is entitled to port in to Smart, but has failed to fix the system error to date. After one week, Globe’s system continues to generate the same error to the frustration of its customers wanting to transfer to Smart.

“Globe has since attempted to apply a fix on October 4, but unfortunately, the invalid rejects continued even after the attempted fix. Globe also offered a workaround or interim solution but unfortunately, when we attempt to re-trigger or re-encode the port in requests into our system, some requests still end up getting rejected by Globe. On top of that, the workaround is very tedious for the Smart frontliners and inconvenient for the customers as well,” the letter said.

As of October 5, Smart logged a 38% rejection rate by Globe due to “technical issues”. The ‘data fix’ is not generating the results Smart needs to complete the porting in of Globe customers to Smart.

“We demand a firm commitment on timelines so we can handle appropriately and cascade with our store frontliners accordingly,” said Regañon.

“Globe’s shortcomings are seriously putting a strain on our own resources as we implement extraordinary measures to bridge the serious gaps that Globe’s issues have created, and keep ported customers digitally connected. These shortcomings reveal a failure on the part of Globe to give its customers the freedom to keep their mobile numbers when they choose to switch to their preferred mobile network. Moreover, there is no urgency to commit to defined timelines for permanent fixes.”

  • While the GCash functionalities continue to work after porting, ported customers are unable to buy load using their GCash, resulting in a less than seamless transfer for Globe customers.

In contrast, Smart said its customers that ported out to Globe continue to enjoy the full functionalities of PayMaya, including buying load using PayMaya, because it already anticipated this issue and addressed it in time for the MNP launch.  In the meantime, Smart said it is providing assistance to Globe customers that have transferred or ported in to Smart by offering them PayMaya as an alternative loading wallet.

Smart said its rival telco has yet to provide a timeline to resolve this critical issue, adding that Globe is “oblivious of the hardships being suffered by former Globe customers that ported in to Smart. It noted that Globe was also acting with a hint of righteousness in its letter dated October 3 addressed to TCI:

“There should be no reason for Smart to fret on PayMaya’s momentary advantage of being able to be a top up channel for ported numbers. Moreover, there are other available channels for topping up ported numbers.”

Globe, for its part, said the MNP service of GOMO will start on October 12, explaining that the delay was due to complexity of multiple functions of its other brands

Globe also said it has yet to receive a copy of Smart’s complaint letter to the NTC and denied any malice or intent to violate the MNP law.

“Being transparent to our GOMO customers, we have sent out SMS advisories on the delay of MNP service readiness to keep our customers fully informed, ” Globe said in a statement.

In addition, Globe pointed out that during the MNP launch, TCI, the joint venture company composed of Globe, Smart and Dito, did mention that birth pains are to be expected with the new service. “This is especially true in our case because of our multiple brands that have multiple functionalities which are differentiated from our core brands,” said Globe.

The telco also took exception to Smart’s complaint, saying that, “All issues and wins of the MNP service are being discussed at length at the management committee of TCI. All service providers are aware of the challenges currently being experienced. It does seem this complaint is being done in bad faith on the part of Smart.”


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