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Globe and Smart at Each Other's Throats on Mobile Number Portability Issue

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The country’s two largest mobile networks are quarreling over issues related to the enforcement of the mobile number portability law, which took effect on September 30. The law essentially allows consumers to keep their existing mobile phone numbers even if they want to switch network providers. Previously, users were assigned a new number by existing networks once they apply for a new prepaid or postpaid line. 

But in a statement, Smart Communications is alleging that rival Globe Telecom is employing a “constructive denial” of network switching to its subscribers. The mobile network unit of PLDT also accused Globe of delaying the implementation of the porting service, which the former says is causing inconvenience to consumers.

According to Smart, Globe’s system rejects network transfer requests for subscribers even those with Globe-issued valid unique subscriber codes, which is a requirement before one can transfer to another network.

“When the Globe customer comes to Smart stores to transfer to Smart, Globe’s system rejects the request due to ‘bundled services,’” Smart said in a statement. “Globe has admitted that this is a system error and that the customer is entitled to port in to Smart, but has failed to fix the system error to date. After one week, Globe’s system continues to generate the same error to the frustration of its customers wanting to transfer to Smart.” 

Although Globe had already attempted to fix the issue, Smart alleges that “the invalid rejects continued even after the attempted fix.” The Manny Pangilinan-controlled network says it has since logged a 38-percent rejection rate by Globe due to these technical issues.   

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“We demand a firm commitment on timelines so we can handle appropriately and cascade with our store frontliners accordingly,” Smart Regulatory Affairs Manager Kenneth E. Reganon said. “Globe’s shortcomings are seriously putting a strain on our own resources as we implement extraordinary measures to bridge the serious gaps that Globe’s issues have created, and keep ported customers digitally connected. These shortcomings reveal a failure on the part of Globe to give its customers the freedom to keep their mobile numbers when they choose to switch to their preferred mobile network. Moreover, there is no urgency to commit to defined timelines for permanent fixes.”

Reganon also said new Smart subscribers who used to be with Globe encountered issues with the GCash app, which Globe also owns.

All of these has led Smart to bring the issue up to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). 

But Globe said it does not intend to violate the MNP law.

“Being transparent to our GOMO customers, we have sent out SMS advisories on the delay of MNP service readiness to keep our customers fully informed,” Globe said. GOMO is Globe’s “fully digital telco” subsidiary. Globe called the issues “birth pains” as it adjusts to the requirements of the new porting service. 

"This is especially true in our case because of our multiple brands that have multiple functionalities which are differentiated from our core brands," the Ayala-owned network added. 

Globe also said Smart did not need to raise the issue with the NTC as it could be resolved within the Telecommunications Connectivity Inc. (TCI), a joint venture among the three telcos (Globe, Smart and new player Dito) for the porting service. 

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"All issues and wins of the MNP service are being discussed at length at the management committee of TCI,” Globe said. “All service providers are aware of the challenges currently being experienced. It does seem this complaint is being done in bad faith on the part of Smart.”

Globe added that porting services for its GOMO brand will commence on October 12.

“We want to make sure that the service will be offered without posing additional problems or complications to our customer,” Globe said. “So far, the company has not received a request from a GOMO customer wanting to avail of the MNP service.”

 

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