PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a measure requiring mobile service providers to allow a subscriber to keep current mobile number in a bid to "promote consumer welfare."
Republic Act (RA) 11202, otherwise known as the "Mobile Number Portability Act," gives mobile phone users the "freedom to choose and to respond to quality, price, and other relevant considerations" without changing their mobile numbers, even if they change mobile service providers or subscription plans.
Under the newly signed-law, public telecommunications entities have the obligation to provide nationwide mobile number portability (MNP) to all qualified subscribers "completely free of charge."
MNP refers to the "ability of a mobile postpaid or prepaid number, who has no existing financial obligation to the donor provider, to retain an existing mobile number, despite having moved from one mobile service provider to another, or to change the type of subscription from postpaid to prepaid or vice versa."
The law provides that a public telecommunications entity shall change the type of subscription from postpaid to prepaid or vice versa, within 24 hours from the time a subscriber submits the porting application.
"In no case, under penalty of law as provided hereunder, shall the benefits of MNP to a subscriber who has decided to avail of MNP be delayed, withheld, refused, or otherwise not delivered within the period provided under this Act," RA 11202 read.
The mobile service providers are also mandated to provide subscribers "complete, relevant, and timely information" of MNP, including its features, the porting application requirements, the porting process, and the cutover period in the porting process.
They are also ordered to maintain confidentiality of information obtained by not monitoring or disclosing the contents of any usage transaction contained within the databases under its control, except to the extent necessary to comply with the provisions of RA 11202.
A fine of P10,000 will be imposed on a mobile service provider, when portability is not performed within the period allowed under the law.
On the other hand, a penalty of P40,000 fine will be slapped against a public telecommunications entity that "unjustly" refuses to grant the retention of mobile number to a subscriber. It will have to pay P100,000 up to P300,000 for second to fourth offense.
A provider who violates the law in fifth time will face a fine of not less than P400,000 up to P1 million and revocation of franchise to operate.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), as the government mandated to implement nationwide MNP, is also authorized to award the subscriber damages not exceeding P40,000.
Within 90 days from the effectivity of RA 11202, the NTC shall coordinate with the Department of Information and Technology, the National Privacy Commission, the Philippine Competition Commission, and other concerned agencies, and promulgate necessary rules and regulations and other issuances.
Within six months from the promulgation of the rules and regulations, mobile service providers are directed to comply with the provisions of the law and set up mechanism for the purpose of implementing nationwide MNP.
Malacañang on Tuesday, February 19, released a copy of RA 11202, which is signed into law by Duterte on February 8. (SunStar Philippines)