Senator Win Gatchalian is pushing for the passage of Senate Bill No. 1237, the Mobile Number Portability Act, which aims to provide consumers the freedom to easily switch network providers while retaining one’s mobile number.
“Our phone numbers are becoming an extension of our lives. We use them to communicate and synergize. This is a straightforward and exciting bill that will empower consumers,” said Gatchalian, the chairman of the Senate Economic Affairs Committee, during the panel’s first hearing on the bill this Tuesday.
The bill also aims to break the duopoly in the telecom industry and spur efficiency by allowing a third or even fourth telecom players to enter the Philippine market. This will encourage competition among telco players and in turn will generate better services with the best value for money.
In 2008, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) attempted to pursue a mobile number portability scheme in the market, but it was shelved mainly because of the high costs of porting mobile numbers. It also begged the question as to who would shoulder the costs.
However, it was revealed during Tuesday’s hearing that technological advancements since then may have lowered the cost of mobile portability operations, making it essentially viable.
Gatchalian said: “Our technology has come a long way since 2008. The prices of the software we need to operate the porting of mobile numbers have gone down. There is still a possibility that consumers may shoulder some of the costs, but we are currently consolidating studies and frameworks to make it completely free for all subscribers.”
The benefits of this bill have long been recognized by various developed countries, such as Singapore, Germany, and Canada, as well as developing countries like Afghanistan and Ecuador.
“Some third world countries legislated the Mobile Portability Act and some have executive issuances already. With the support of NTC and our current telco players we can legislate this bill in our country for the benefit of all of our consumers,” the senator said.