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Gatchalian champions mobile number portability bill to boost competition among telcos

PASAY CITY, Philippines ​- ​Senators (from left) Win Gatchalian, JV Ejercito, Grace Poe and Joel Villanueva facilitate a public services committee hearing on the renewal of a government franchise to Smart Communications, Inc., 23 February 2017. The lawmakers are bent on reforming the telecommunications industry, a duopoly-controlled sector by Globe Telecom and PLDT-Smart, by introducing policies that will encourage greater competition and better services at par with international standards. (Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS GATCHALIAN)

Frustrated by the continuing negative impact of poor competition on telecommunications consumer welfare, Senator Win Gatchalian is championing the passage of a measure seeking to implement a mobile number portability (MNP) policy.

Senate Bill No. 1237, otherwise known as the Mobile Number Portability Act, would allow consumers to retain their existing cellular phone numbers when switching to a different cellular service provider.

“The lack of consumer mobility in the telco industry leaves consumers with little choice but to suffer through inferior service for the sake of convenience. Allowing consumers to retain their mobile identity when switching service providers would force telcos to engage in genuine competition and improve their services if they want to persuade their existing customers to stay with them,” said Gatchalian.

As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, Gatchalian has utilized the committee as a platform to advocate for greater competition in the telecommunications industry, conducting several hearings on the matter.

Based on the outcome of these hearings, Gatchalian said he is convinced that serious regulatory reforms are needed to weed out anti-competitive behavior within the telco industry and improve the quality of services provided by industry players.

One such reform is to grant the National Telecommunications Commission “super powers” so that the body can better exercise its vital regulatory functions in the telco industry.

“Unfortunately, some of these reforms will take more time to implement. Mobile Number Portability, however, is a simple yet effective policy that can be implemented within a shorter time table. We need to prioritize it so that we can give consumers immediate relief from the unfair burden of inferior mobile phone services,” said Gatchalian.