PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed into law the Mobile Number Portability Act that allows cell phone users to switch networks without changing their numbers.
The Republic Act No. 11202, enacted on Feb. 8, is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 1636 and House Bill No. 7652.
Section 3 (a) of the law states: “The basic premise behind a nationwide Mobile Number Portability Act system is to promote consumer welfare as it fosters the freedom to choose and to respond to quality, price and other relevant considerations without the consumers having to change their mobile numbers whenever they change mobile service providers or subscription plans.”
Mobile number portability, the law says, refers to the ability of a mobile postpaid or prepaid subscriber, who has no existing financial obligation to the service provider, to retain an existing mobile number despite having moved from one mobile service provider to another, or to change subscription mode from postpaid to prepaid or vice versa.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has 90 days from the law’s Feb. 19 publication — it takes effect 15 calendar days from then — to issue its implementing rules and regulations, and mobile telecommunication service providers have six months from promulgation of such rules to set up the mechanism for number portability and “comply with the provisions of this Act.”
Under the new law, these service providers have to provide mobile number portability to subscribers nationwide free of charge.
The law says as well that “in no case” can mobile number portability “be delayed, withheld, refused, or otherwise not delivered within the period provided under this Act.”
Every telecommunication service provider has to change subscription mode within 24 hours from the time a subscriber submits application, according to the law.
The law authorizes the NTC to impose a P10,000 fine in case portability is not provided within the period set under the law. Also, a fine of not less than P40,000 will be imposed in case mobile number portability “is unjustly refused even after mediation”. Succeeding violations will warrant increased fines of P100,000 to P1 million plus revocation of franchise on the fifth instance. — A. L. Balinbin