THE country’s telecommunications companies have formed a joint venture (JV) that will bring them closer to implementing the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) Act.

In a joint statement, Globe Telecom, Inc., PLDT, Inc.’s wireless unit Smart Communications and new player Dito Telecommunity said they are making fresh investments in the new company that will enable number porting services.

The MNP Act or Republic Act 11202, which was signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte into law in February 2019, allows mobile phone users to switch networks without changing their numbers.

The telcos said they tapped Florida-based Syniverse as mobile number portability service provider (MNPSP) that “will bring in the technical infrastructure to fulfill its primary function as clearinghouse for the telcos and ensuring smooth implementation of number porting services.”

“Given the technical and operational complexity of mobile number portability, we wanted to make sure the MNPSP has the experience and capacity to fulfill its obligations under the law. Our utmost priority is to ensure that the experience of our customers is seamless and of utmost convenience should they decide to port their numbers,” Globe Chief Technology and Information Officer and Chief Strategy Officer Gil B. Genio was quoted as saying.

Under the MNP Act’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR) issued last July, the operators “will equally share the capital expenditure for the software, hardware and other facilities required by the MNPSP.”

The telcos and Syniverse will also have to agree on the sharing of operating and maintenance costs of the number porting services.

Syniverse is described as a company that assists mobile operators globally in managing and securing their mobile and network communications.

For the Philippines, Syniverse estimates the completion of MNP’s implementation would not be more than 18 months from the establishment of the support mechanism. Porting services in the Philippines will be free of charge.

In other countries where porting fees are charged to customers, the average period of MNP implementation is 27 months from the issuance of the IRR.

“We’ve taken the key steps forward but there’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of technical preparations. We at PLDT and Smart have geared up for this. We are taking steps to put in place a seamless and efficient process for our existing and would-be customers who would like to avail of this service in the future,” Alfredo S. Panlilio, PLDT and Smart chief revenue officer and Smart president, was quoted as saying.

Under the law, mobile number portability 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 law requires telcos to provide mobile number portability to subscribers nationwide free of charge.

Every telecommunication service provider has to change subscription mode within 24 hours from the time a subscriber submits application, according to the law. — Arjay L. Balinbin