With the advent of cellular networks tying phone numbers to individual subscriber identity module (SIM) cards, came the explosion of mobile numbers to memorize. This was even worse when mobile phone users were on prepaid plans, as that entailed using a mobile number for only as long as the current network’s prepaid plan was maintained by keeping it loaded. If the user got another SIM card, from the same network or another, it was time to inform their phone contacts that they had a new number. For a time, the notion of keeping the same number even when switching networks was floated in legislation. Now that idea could become reality.

The Manila Bulletin reports that Republic Act No. 11202 will soon be fully implemented by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for this coming September, as they disclosed during a Senate hearing held this past Wednesday, January 27. Said RA, which was actually signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in February of last year, is the Mobile Number Portability Act, which mandates the country’s cellular networks to allow individual mobile numbers to be carried over even when a user switches between networks, or between prepaid and postpaid plans within the same network.

Getting to keep a mobile number between plans and networks, sounds like a dream come true for many mobile users. Telecom providers losing exclusivity over the use of those numbers is another plus, as is not having to pay fees for inter-network connection or number maintenance. Still, if this was signed into law back in 2020, why are we only hearing from it again now? We have COVID-19 to thank, or blame, for the delay. But now Globe Telecom, Smart Communications and currently-setting-up “third telco” Dito Telecommunity are working to implement full mobile number portability.

To do so, the three telecom providers have entered a joint venture and formed the Telecom Connectivity Inc. consortium as a means to facilitate mobile portability between their networks. They will have the help of the company Syniverse from the US to provide service portability of mobile numbers. According to Smart VP for Legal and Regulatory Group Roy Ibay, they will begin testing mobile number interoperability between prepaid and postpaid plans, and between Globe and Dito networks, this coming June. If things go well, then effective September 30, Filipino mobile users can keep their cell numbers between networks and plans, as long as they like. Hopefully COVID does not mess up this technological step forward.

Image courtesy of GMA News