Hitches in mobile portability law emerge

posted October 07, 2021 at 06:55 pm
by  Ray S. Eñano
The Mobile Number Portability Act has finally come of age to the benefit of millions of mobile phone users in the Philippines. Over two years after President Rodrigo Duterte signed the law, customers can now switch to other telecommunications carriers without having to change their mobile phone numbers.

The law is a relief for every mobile phone user, who can now keep his old cellphone number even if he changes and upgrades his unit and switches to a different carrier. Retaining the old cellphone number is key to preserving one’s business and personal contacts in this digital age.

The Philippines is quite late in implementing the MNP law, which has been the practice for some time in other countries like Singapore, Japan and the United States. 

Mobile number portability primarily benefits the consumer who is now free to transfer to another carrier without losing his or her number in order to avail of better service. The MNP law is forcing telecom companies to improve their services in order to keep their subscribers, and offer attractive packages to lure customers of their competitors to switch.

The three major telecom companies―Globe Telecom, Smart Communications and Dito Telecommunity―earlier sought more time to implement the MNP law. They had cited the need to conduct interoperability tests and hire an independent contractor to manage the porting services.

The three eventually formed a consortium―Telecommunications Connectivity Inc. (TCI)―and tapped the services of a global company, Syniverse,  to implement the porting platform. 

Mobile phone subscribers should have no problems porting their numbers from one carrier to another. A subscriber, per the guidelines of the National Telecommunications  Commission, can leave his carrier in favor of another as long as he has no outstanding financial obligations or a contract under a lock-in period. 

A company that offers better services obviously will enjoy an advantage over its competitor with the commercial of the MNP.  Subscribers will flock and switch to the telco that offers wider network coverage and better services.

The cutthroat competition in the industry, however, may lead an overeager sales or marketing rep to employ deception. A consumer recalled one such experience. Eric Caraan, in a statement issued through consumer group Pilipino Society and Development Advocates Commuter-Consumer, said he had wanted to migrate from Globe to Smart but was thwarted from doing so by a Globe customer relations officer. 

Caraan, who is the deputy secretary-general of PASADA-CC, claimed 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 claimed further 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. 

Such deceptive electronic and customer-relations/marketing ploys to dissuade and frustrate subscribers from transferring to other mobile service providers should be discouraged because these, in Caraan’s words, violate the spirit of the MNP law.

Vicente Froilan Castelo, the chairman of TCI, the company in charge of the porting services, should look into the glitches of the law. Mr. Castelo, who happens to be Globe’s general counsel and senior vice president, and also the president of the Philippine Chamber of Telecommunication Operators Inc., is in a position to iron out the MNP snags emanating from his company.

Globe, meanwhile, is denying any malice or intent to violate the law, saying its GOMO mobile number portability service will be available by October 12. “Being transparent to our GOMO customers, we have sent out SMS advisories on the delay of MNP service readiness to keep our customers fully informed,” Globe said in a statement.

Smart earlier asked Globe to remedy persistent concerns affecting Globe customers wanting to transfer to Smart but have been unable to do so seamlessly due to Globe’s system-readiness issues and general unpreparedness to implement the MNP Law.

Veterans Bank sues for estafa

Two Chinese owners of a medical supply company who are facing estafa raps from Philippine Veterans Bank have eluded arrest since the filing of charges for violating Presidential Decree No. 115, or the Trust Receipts Law.

The bank in 2019 filed the estafa charges against Jimmy M. Hao and Jamie Sheila S. Hao, president and vice president, respectively, of Biñan, Laguna-based Meihao Corp., a supplier of medical equipment to various hospitals and medical institutions.

Meihao obtained a P110-million credit facility from Veterans after executing a trust receipts agreement in favor of the bank. But beginning March 22, 2019, Meihao started to default on its obligation to turn over the proceeds of the sale of the goods to the bank.

The default prompted Veterans to call on the obligations of Meihao and demand the payment of the outstanding debt under the subject trust receipts amounting to P122.9 million, inclusive of interests and penalties as of July 20, 2019.

Despite the bank’s demands, the accused failed to pay the outstanding obligations. A court issued a warrant of arrest against the two accused who have remained at large.

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Topics: Ray Eñano , Mobile Number Portability Act , President Rodrigo Duterte , Globe Telecom , Smart Communications , Dito Telecommunity
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