Telcos seen to level up game once number portability in place

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s mobile network operators are expected to be at the top of their game in the hopes of not losing subscribers once the mobile number portability is launched by end-September.

Melanie Manuel, general manager of Telecommunications Connectivity Inc. (TCI), expects about a million subscribers in the country to initially port within networks, or transfer to another service provider while keeping their mobile numbers.

“Initially, we’re projecting a million, but in other countries, we see that there is about 30 percent of the subscribers porting out,” Manuel said in a virtual briefing yesterday.

Mobile number portability or MNP is a global practice that enables a mobile phone customer to keep their number even when they switch networks or change their subscription from postpaid to prepaid and vice versa.

Manuel said MNP would encourage the competitors to expand their network, improve customer experience, and expand products and services.

“You wouldn’t want people to port out right? So it is a challenge for all of them. And at the end of the day, the winners are the Filipino people,” Manuel said.

“Even me as an ordinary subscriber, I can choose my network if I’m no longer happy with my current provider. So I think that is something that will challenge the three operators. This will challenge the operators more to become better service providers,” she said.

The country’s major mobile network operators – Smart Communications Inc., Globe Telecom Inc., and Dito Telecommunity Corp. – have formed TCI as their joint venture company to enable number porting services in compliance with the Mobile Number Portability law.

The company is required to facilitate decision making and approvals in the various contracts that will be entered into during the course of the implementation of mobile number portability.

The operators have invested a total of P120 million so far.  It is expected, however, that they will spend more since the service is free of charge for the customer under law.

“The recipient provider, whoever is the new provider, will have to pay TCI a porting fee. So it’s not being paid by the subscriber, but will be paid by the recipient provider,” Manuel said.

She said TCI is on track to have the MNP commercially available in the country on Sept 30 following successful technical interoperability tests.

“We are really trying hard to meet our Sept. 30 deadline. There might be fortuitous events, but barring those events, we should implement by Sept. 30,” she said.

TCI chairman and Globe general counsel Froilan Castelo said it took the operators 22 months to build MNP, upgrade the system, integrate with the MNP service provider and conduct testing with the other telcos.

“A lot of brainstorming happened, testing and developing all possible scenarios that can happen in MNP and finally after 22 months we can say we are now ready to provide mobile number portability in the Philippines,” he said.

“We want to make sure that we can give the best solutions and services to the Filipino people by giving them the power of choice. Through mobile number portability, we are empowering our customers to pursue their passions and purpose,” TCI president and PLDT and Smart SVP and head of technology Mario Tamayo said.

To port within networks, a subscriber needs to have an active SIM, no remaining balance from previous bill for postpaid, no existing court prohibitions, and no pending transfer of ownership.

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