MANILA - The Philippines' major telecommunications providers on Thursday officially launched the joint venture Telecommunications Connectivity Inc (TCI) as they prepare to make mobile numbers portable across each others' networks by Sept. 30.
Mobile number portability will allow telco subscribers to switch service providers without having to change mobile numbers, representatives of the 3 major telco players said in a rare joint press conference Thursday.
TCI, the joint venture of DITO Telecommunity, Globe Telecom and PLDT Inc's Smart Communication, will oversee the rollout of the measure.
"It is a sure win for the Filipino people... sa Mobile Portability Act, may forever," TCI general manager Melanie Manuel told reporters.
The joint venture was established in line with RA 11202 or An Act Requiring Mobile Service Providers to Provide Nationwide Mobile Number Portability to Subscribers, said Mario Tamayo, TCI president, and senior vice president of PLDT and Smart.
Manuel said the measure is also "something that encourages competition among 3 telcos."
"We hope to usher in a new era of innovation and competition for the benefit of the Filipino people," said Brian Patrick Lim, member of the TCI management committee, and vice president of Globe Telecom.
"Essentially, what it does is it encourages competition and it gives consumers the freedom to choose a provider with the best services," said TCI treasurer and chief administrative officer of DITO Telecommunity Adel Tamano.
At least P120 million has been invested by the 3 telcos in TCI.
Initial tests have yielded positive results, the group earlier said. TCI is also "doing its best" to roll out number portability in September, Manuel said.
TCI shared some information on mobile portability:
- Switching providers (porting out and porting in) will be free for users
- It will only take 48 hours to transfer telcos with about 4 hours downtime before the transfer takes effect
- Service is available for both prepaid and postpaid subscribers provided that the lock-in period for postpaid users has expired and that all liabilities are settled
- There is no limit to switching back and forth to and from any telco providers
- After completing a telco switch, there will be a 60-day period before a subscriber can request another transfer
- By default, consumers won't be able to tell what telco provider the other party is using
- The switching process will start with a text message before a SIM card will be made available for pickup (subject to improvements)
- Users need an active SIM and the requestor is the assignee of the mobile number to be ported
- Users should have no existing court prohibitions
- Users should have no pending transfer of ownership
At least 1 million subscribers are expected to avail of the service at the initial phase, Manuel said.
The primary author of the measure, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, earlier said the number portability act would create a "conducive" environment for customers to move around.
Allowing users to keep their numbers could force telcos to improve their services to gain loyalty, Gatchalian said.