Senate OKs Lifetime Cellphone Number Bill
The Senate has approved a version of a bill that aims to allow telecommunications subscribers to keep their mobile number for life, even if they change providers or subscription plans.
Senate Bill 1636, or the “Lifetime Cellphone Number Act”, sponsored and authored by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, gets a nod in the upper house with 20 affirmative votes, no negative votes, and no abstention.
The bill, if enacted into law, would primarily require public telecommunications entities in the country to provide consumers with “mobile number portability (MNP),” or the ability to retain one’s existing mobile number even when he or she moves from one service provider to another, or when he or she changes subscription to postpaid to prepaid, or vice versa. Hefty fines await those who violate, as telecommunications entities who would delay, withhold, refuse or otherwise not deliver the benefits of mobile number portability to a mobile subscriber within “24 hours from the time such subscriber completed his or her porting application,” could be penalized with fines up to P1 million, or with total revocation of their operating franchises.
The Senate version of the bill included an amendment introduced by Senator Panfilo Lacson that seeks to remove the interconnectivity fees imposed by telecommunications entities on subscribers for calls and messages across different networks.
“The bill would free them from such shackles and allow them to transfer to the telecommunications entity that offers the best customer service, network coverage and quality of service,” he said. The bill noted that the nationwide MNP system would also promote competition among telecommunications entities, and stimulate them to “provide consumers with the best overall value that they can offer. It will also foster technological innovation that will lead to an even greater demand for telecommunications products and services, and lead to a virtuous cycle of economic growth,” the bill said.
“The bill would give consumers them the freedom to choose the provider that would give the best value for their money without having to lose or change their mobile numbers,” Gatchalian said.
The upper and lower house versions of the bill will now be reconciled in a bicameral conference committee before submitting to the President for enactment into law.
Source: Senate PR