By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Efforts allowing the interoperability of cellphone numbers will finally come into fruition more than two years after the enactment of the landmark legislation, the Mobile Number Portability Act (MNPA), Senator Win Gatchalian said Wednesday.
Following the completion of the three major telecommunications companies’ initial testing of their technical capabilities and interoperability, Gatchalian wants to see the telcos stick to their commitment to putting in place by September 30 this year mobile number portability services.
This will allow mobile phone subscribers to switch networks or change subscriptions without losing the mobile numbers they are currently using and without having to pay for interconnection fees for calling or texting across different service providers.
“Malaking kaginhawaan ito lalo na sa mga gustong magpalit ng service provider para sa mas maayos na serbisyo pero ayaw bitawan ang kanilang mobile subscriber number. Malaking abala para sa iba ang pagpapalit ng kanilang numero lalo na kung matagal na nilang gamit ito,” said Gatchalian, the principal author and sponsor of Republic Act No. 11202.
“What we want is for the telcos to freely compete, make it feasible for interoperability and the end-goal is to drive the prices down and provide better services. One’s cell phone number has become almost akin to maintaining one’s digital identity,” he added.
Gatchalian earlier called out the telcos for the delay in the implementation of MNPA which the law provided to be in place as early as January 2020, following the issuance of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) in June 2019.
The senator even issued a stern warning saying that telcos will be meted out with penalties as much as a P1 million fine and revocation of their franchises if they would repeatedly and unjustly refuse to implement the portability within the period prescribed by the law.
“Noong una kong binalangkas ito noong 2016 at nai-refile noong 2017 hanggang sa naisabatas ito noong Pebrero 8, 2019, hindi ko inakala na mas magiging makabuluhan ito sa panahon na may pandemya at nakaasa tayo sa digital technology. Sana ay magtuloy-tuloy na ang mga telcos na maisakatuparan ang batas para sa kapakanan ng publiko,” the senator said.