The bill seeking to allow consumers to keep their cellphone numbers for life has been approved by the joint panel of the Senate and House of Representatives on Tuesday, an official said.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said consumers could keep their numbers even if they changed their service providers or subscription plans.
Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate committee on economic Affairs and author of the bill, said it would require service providers to provide nationwide mobile number portability to subscribers, and that would be timely with the entry of a third telecommunications company in the Philippines.
He said consumers wanting to transfer to a third telecoms company need not change their cellphone numbers.
If the third telecoms firm would lower its price and give better service, there would be no difficulty moving to another telecoms firm.
Gatchalian said if one had many cellphone numbers, there would be a big problem transferring to another telecoms firm.
Furthermore, Gatchalian said the measure aims to improve the competition in the telecommunications industry.
“This law was conceived because we want to improve the competition and we saw that even with the entry of a third telco, if there is no law, customers will have difficulty to get customers because the customers of Globe and Smart were already embedded,” he said.
He said the joint Senate and House panel decided to give the National Telecommunications Commission six months to come up with the implementing rules and regulations so that the law could be implemented immediately.
Based on the hearing, Gatchalian said, this was possible because many countries were already doing it.
“This will improve the competition at ngayon ay mas madali na sa ating lumipat ng iba’t ibang telco companies na hindi na kailangang magpalit ng cellphone number,” he said.
He said the bill would be applicable to both prepaid and postpaid subscribers.
He warned that any telecommunications company that would refuse to give to the subscriber his number would face up to P40 million in penalty and a revocation of its franchise.