Senator William Gatchalian has issued a stern warning to the telecommunications companies against attempts to further delay the forestalled implementation of the Mobile Number Portability Act (MNPA), saying they will be meted out with appropriate penalties.
The MNPA, or Republic Act No. 11202 or the Act Requiring Mobile Service Providers To Provide Nationwide Mobile Number Portability To Subscribers, imposes a maximum fine of P1 million fine to telcos and revocation of their franchises to operate if they repeatedly and unjustly refuse to implement the portability within the period allowed under the said law, Gatchalian said.
The MNPA allows subscribers to transfer from one service provider to another without changing their mobile numbers free of charge.
Gatchalian said that the law should have been carried out as early as January 2020 since the law was signed in February 2019 and the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) issued in June 2019.
But in a letter to the senator by the telcos in December 2019, Globe Telecom, Smart Communications and Dito Telecommunity explained that they need an independent third party contractor to manage mobile porting services to ensure better interoperability and might take until July this year to set up the whole mechanism. A telco representative, during Wednesday’s Senate Public Services committee hearing, said that telcos will start the interoperability test in June this year and will carry out the full commercial launch by September. They cited the pandemic as the reason behind the revised timeline.
“The current situation should enable our consumers to easily shift without much of a fuss to another network that offer better services especially since our daily grind is practically dependent nowadays on telcos’ services,” Gatchalian, principal author of the landmark legislation, said.
“The law was enacted even before the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, and now there is a new Covid-19 variant. The National Telecommunications Commission should see to it that telcos strictly follow the law,” he added partly in Filipino.