This was the assurance given by Senator Win Gatchalian, who delivered his sponsorship speech this week for his bill, the Lifetime Cellphone Number Act (Senate Bill No. 1636). This measure is set to give consumers the power to keep their cellphone numbers for life, even if they change service providers or switch from postpaid to prepaid subscription, and vice versa.
Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Economic Affairs Committee, explained that under the current system, telco subscribers are reluctant to switch away from under-performing service providers because it would be inconvenient for them to change their mobile numbers. Similarly, they fear that they might lose their important contacts in the process.
To correct this anti-consumer status quo, the senator promised that his bill would remove the “shackles” that hinder users from leaving their service providers and transfer to providers that offer “the best customer service, the best network, and the best quality of service”.
The senator added that in light of the expected entry of new telco players, a cellphone number should become an extension of every subscriber’s “digital identity”, so that consumer loyalty will not be determined by the fear of losing their numbers but through the dynamism of competition among players.
The measure is culled from the technical concept of Mobile Number Portability, where one’s cellphone number is “portable” in order to give him/her the freedom to choose the provider that can give the best value without losing the cellphone number.
Senate Bill 1636 is a substitute bill Gatchalian filed last December 12, 2017, replacing his earlier bill Senate Bill 1237.