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Business

MNP delay a disservice to the public

HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Mobile number portability (MNP), which enables subscribers of cellular mobile telephone services to retain their number when changing from one network carrier to another, is not new.

It is has been observed that MNP is important since it removes a major hurdle to switching networks, especially for those who have too much equity in the number – like business users.

According to some online reports, Hong Kong has been implementing MNP since 1999, while Australia adopted  it in 2001. The US started MNP in 2003 and the procedure takes only two hours. In Southeast Asia, Ma­laysia implemented it in 2008 or around the same time as Singapore. Thailand began enabling porting in 2010, while Vietnam did it in two phases: first for postpaid accounts in 2018, followed by prepaid ac­counts in 2019.

On Feb. 8, 2019, Republic Act 11202 was signed into law by Presi­dent Duterte. It required mobile service providers to allow for na­tionwide MNP to their subscribers.

There are three guiding principles in the implementa­tion of the law. First, the MNP system’s basic premise is to promote consumer welfare since it fosters the freedom to choose and to respond to quality, price, and other con­siderations without the consumer having to change their numbers whenever they change providers or subscription plans. Second is that the MNP is envisioned to encourage mobile service providers to compete with each to other to provide consumers with the best overall value they can offer, thus encouraging technological innovation. This is what MNP represents, an opportunity to rebalance the relationship between the service providers and consumers.

The new law makes it obligatory for each public tele­communication entities (PTE) to provide nationwide MNP to all qualified subscribers free of charge. It also requires PTEs to change the type of subscription from postpaid to prepaid or vice versa within 24 hours from the time a subscriber submits the porting application.

However, subscribers can port the same number only every 60 days since the law says that one shall be allowed to port the number only after the lapse of 60 days from the completion of the last porting process.

Subscribers can also now have their handsets unlocked upon demand and free of charge upon request made to the their PTE service provider and upon completion of all the requirements for MNP.

Only subscribers with no outstanding financial obliga­tion with their provider, which is referred to as the donor provider (DP), as well as those subscriber not blacklisted by any provider due to previous fraudulent activities can apply for MNP service.

Under the rules and regulations implementing the MNP Act issued by the National Telecommunications Com­mission (NTC), there shall be one MNP service provider (MNPSP) that will provide mobile number porting services for the mobile service providers (MSP). The MNPSP shall be chosen by the MSPs and the latter will equally share the costs of the former.

In applying for MNP, the subscriber first has to get a unique subscriber code (USC) from his or her provider (DP), which is valid for 15 days from issuance. The USC and the mobile phone number should match. The subscriber will then have to submit a porting application with a valid USC to the recipient provider (RP), to which such subscriber wishes to transfer and such application can be submitted either personally or online or through SMS via a five-digit access code assigned by the MSPs for porting application.

Upon receipt of the application, the RP will then trans­mit it to the DP through the MNPSP. Within 24 hours from receipt of clearance from the DP, the RP shall activate the applicant’s ported number and inform the applicant and the MNPSP of the activation of the ported number.

The porting process shall be completed within 48 hours from the time the application is submitted to the RP.

Meanwhile, in changing from postpaid to prepaid and vice versa within the same mobile network, all that a subscriber needs to do is to submit the application to the concerned MSP, which should change the type of service subscription within 24 hours from the time of acceptance of application.

The commercial rollout of the MNP, however, started only last Sept. 30. It was only last July when the three telcos, namely Globe, Smart, and newest player Dito Telecom­munity joined forces and formed a joint venture called Telecommunications Connectivity Inc. that will serve as the MNPSP or the implementation arm for the MNP.

But now that the MNP Law has finally been effect, the so-called growing pains keep mounting.

Smart, for one, has complained to the NTC that Globe subscribers are facing difficulties in shifting to the Smart network. It said that 38 percent of transfers had failed due to technical issues from Globe as of Oct. 5. Globe, mean­while, denies any malice or intent to violate the MNP law, saying all its brands are providing MNP services although that for the Gomo brand was delayed to Oct. 12 due to complexity of the multiple functions of its other brands.

Former congressman Terry Ridon, convenor of In­frawatch PH, wants the NTC to intervene to address the mounting complaints against Globe.

Ridon, a former member of the House committee on information and communications technology, said the complaints against Globe appear not to be isolated cases because Infrawatch has also received reports relating to process roadblocks being imposed by specific telcos to throttle the full implementation of the MNP.

He noted that process roadblocks being imposed by telcos subvert the efficiency timelines under the MNP law and its implementing rules, adding that telcos are doing this by limiting booking appointments relating to MNP, defining bundled services broadly to cover a wider swath of excepted mobile numbers, and limiting functionality required for third-party services such as virtual wallets and online banking.

He said system glitches and bugs should have been identified and resolved before the commercial launch of the MNP and cannot be used as lame excuses to delay the implementation of the law.

There should have been no excuses, he said, because the telcos were given enough time to prepare for the MNP’s commercial launch or more than two years since the IRR of the law was issued in June 2019.

Several of the complaints involve Globe’s Gomo brand, which earlier sent an advisory to its subscribers that it can only participate in the MNP by October due to unavoid­able technical issues. Gomo, which offers mobile data without any expiry, was launched in October last year.

Ridon is asking the NTC to initiate motu proprio proceed­ings on the implementation of the MNP law, particularly the problems encountered by the public upon its com­mercial launch.

 

 

For comments, e-mail at mareyes@philstarmedia.com

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