Who's afraid of the mobile number portability law?

"This is for the ultimate benefit of subscribers."


Would you want to retain your mobile number if, for one reason or another, you want to shift from one telco to another?

I do, and I'm certain that most, if not all, subscribers would want that as well.

The Mobile Number Portability (MNP) Act came into effect only on September 30, or more than two years after the bill was signed into law. That's because the three telcos, namely Globe Telecom, Smart Communications and Dito Telecommunity, cited several reasons, such as the need to conduct interoperability tests and hire an independent contractor to manage the porting services.

Mobile number portability benefits consumers who can transfer to another carrier to avail themselves of better service without losing their numbers.     The MNP law also compels telcos to improve their services so they get to keep their subscribers and offer attractive packages to lure customers of their competitors to switch to them.

The three telcos got their act together by forming a consortium—Telecommunications Connectivity Inc. (TCI)—and tapping the services of  a global firm, Syniverse,  to implement the porting platform.

The existence of TCI will be co-terminus with the implementation of MNP. Thus, for as long as the law requires mobile number portability, TCI will continue to exist.

With the MNP law now in effect, mobile phone subscribers should have no problems porting their numbers from one carrier to another. 

The guidelines issued by the National Telecommunications  Commission (NTC) require subscribers to have no outstanding financial obligations or a contract with a lock-in period with the telco they are leaving for another provider.

The subscriber should also not be blacklisted or barred by the courts from porting his or her number. The porting  of the mobile number is free of charge.

A telco found violating the provisions of the MNP law could face fines of up to P1 million and the revocation of its franchise.

Obviously, a company that offers better services will be at a distinct advantage now that MNP is  commercially operational.

Subscribers will flock and switch to the telco that offers wider network coverage and better services. Its competitors could then perhaps find ways to subvert this by coming up with dubious methods to keep their unsatisfied subscribers from transferring to another provider. 

A telco subscriber, Eric Caraan, who is also the deputy secretary-general of Pilipino Society and Development Advocates Commuter-Consumer (PASADA-CC), a consumer-commuter rights organization, lamented that he had  wanted  to migrate  from Globe to Smart but was prevented from doing so by a Globe customer relations officer.

Caraan said the Globe customer relations officer  he spoke to “prescribed a non-functional online method  and [I] was instead advised to upgrade to an existing, more expensive subscription plan.”

Caraan  said he received a similar complaint from a Batangas-based Globe subscriber and member of PASADA-CC who had sought to transfer  a cellular service subscription from Globe to Dito Telecoms.

In a statement, PASADA-CC quoted Caraan as saying: “There seems to be an emerging pattern of Globe employing such deceptive electronic and customer-relations/marketing ploys to dissuade and ultimately frustrate existing Globe Telecoms subscribers from transferring to other mobile service providers.”

“If such practices continue to be observed by mobile service providers which violate the core principles of RA 11202, his organization will be filing the appropriate complaints against them before the NTC,” Caraan said.

Two anecdotal pieces of evidence do not constitute an “emerging pattern.”  But if more subscribers come out and complain against Globe, then this issue is worth investigating by the NTC.

Ironically, the chairman of TCI, the company in charge of the porting services, is also Globe's general counsel and senior vice president as well as president of the Philippine Chamber of Telecommunication Operators Inc. (PCTO).

Globe has long been saying it is ready to comply with the MNP law, and even announced that it was already implementing mobile number portability since April this year, ahead of the September 30 target.

It would appear, however, that Globe’s pre-September 30 MNP is internal to the network. This means subscribers  are allowed to switch from postpaid to prepaid or prepaid to postpaid or move from Globe to its sister brand TM.

Now that the law is already in effect, the telco seems hesitant in complying with it. Is it because it fears losing millions of subscribers to its competitors? 

US vs China

Newt Gingrich, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives in the United States, recently wrote a series of articles in the Washington Times comparing the U.S. and China. He was once a college history professor and holds a doctorate in history.

In "The Crisis of American Civilization", Gingrich described the serious rifts and contradictions in American society.   

"We are now in a crisis of American civilization fully as dangerous and real as the crisis of the U.S. Civil War or World War II."

He cited the looting and rioting in Minnesota that occurred even as a trial of a former policeman was already underway, proving the rule of law works.  "There is a war on police with 264 killed in 2020, a jump of 96 percent over the previous year. In New York City, hostile forces use Molotov cocktails to set police cars on fire. Murder rates are skyrocketing around the country with 2020 the biggest one-year jump in homicides in American history."

He also slammed crony capitalism that he said was "becoming bolder as big government and big business reinforce each other at the country’s expense."  

Then there's "overt racism through race-based reparations, school quotas, and anti-white and anti-male curricula" that portend "a return to government-fueled discrimination and segregation."

By contrast, Gingrich said, China has made remarkable progress in the fight against COVID-19, with its manufacturing chain rapidly recovering and global exports of Chinese goods even more dependent than before.

Guangzhou Baiyun Airport has overtaken Atlanta airport in the US to become the world's busiest airport, Gingrich pointed out. Apart from the professional flight attendants, clean airport and considerate service, robots can also be seen serving passengers at the newly opened Chengdu Tianfu Airport. By 2035, 159 new airports will be built, on top of the 241 currently in place.

Today, there are 37,900 kilometers of high-speed railways in China, with the fastest going 210 miles per hour. As a signal that American politicians, interest groups, lobbyists, unions, and bureaucrats had better get their national goals together — just for its  survival as a country — Americans, Gingrich said, ought to all go ride a Chinese high-speed train and then come home and ride the Amtrak Acela, which peaks at 150 miles per hour. Then, they should compare comfort, cleanliness, convenience, and service on the Chinese and American systems.

Amid the Chinese advance, Gingrich asserted, "the US must strengthen its competitiveness or lose out." Given the current system of partisan politics, funding infighting and insularity, he concedes that "without significant internal reform, it is completely impossible to win the race with China." 

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Topics: Ernesto Hilario , Mobile Number Portability Act , Globe Telecom , Smart Communications , Dito Telecommunity
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