MANILA (UPDATED) - President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law that will enable consumers to keep their mobile numbers in case they switch service providers or change their subscription plans, according to a copy of the measure released on Tuesday.
The Mobile Number Portability Act, signed on Feb. 8, "fosters the freedom to choose and to respond to quality, price, and other relevant considerations."
Globe Telecom reported 74.1 million mobile subscribers at the end of 2018 while rival PLDT Inc had 58 million at the end of September 2018.
Telecommunications companies should be allow subscribers to keep their numbers "completely free of charge," according to the measure.
The "porting process," wherein a number is moved between carriers or subscription plans, should not take more than 48 hours, the law stated.
The law imposes a fine of up to P1 million and revocation of a telecommunications firm's franchise to operate for the fifth and subsequent instances if the mobile number portability is "unjustly refused even after mediation."
The National Telecommunications Commission was also authorized by the law to award up to P40,000 per subscriber for damages.
Below is the full copy of the Mobile Number Portability Act:
PLDT-Smart, in a statement, welcomed the signing of the law.
"We will support a law that mandates it. There are technical issues to implementation. So government and industry must work together to sort these out," it said.
"This includes timing of implementation. There has to be a clearinghouse to manage the numbers. Who will run that? Operators will also have to change their internal systems for managing numbers."