Industry

Calling and Texting Your Friends On Other Networks Is About To Get A Lot Cheaper

The Lifetime Cellphone Number Act is just waiting for the President’s signature.
IMAGE Porapak Apichodilok | Pexels
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Texting and calling friends and family from another mobile network will soon no longer be an added cost to your monthly mobile plan as a legislative measure seeks to eradicate interconnection fees for good.

Once passed into law, the Lifetime Cellphone Number Act or the reconciled version of Senate Bill 1636 and House Bill 7652, will “remove the interconnection fees charged to subscribers for calling or texting across different networks.”

The Act has just recently been passed to President Rodrigo Duterte for his signature. If the President fails to sign or veto the enrolled bill, it will automatically lapse into law.  

This comes just six months after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered telecommunication companies to lower interconnection rates on calls and texts. In August 2018, calls from one network to another was reduced from Php2.50 to Php0.50 per minute while rates on SMS or text messages from one network was cut from Php0.15 to Php0.05 per message.

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The provision is just an added plus to the bigger goal of the bill, which is to allow mobile subscribers to retain their numbers even when they switch to another mobile network. Under the reconciled version, telco networks are ordered to not let its customers directly or indirectly shoulder additional costs for switching to another telecom.

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“The reconciled bill also fosters healthy competition among mobile service providers and in turn will generate better services with the best value for money," said Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, the bill’s principal author.

The bill comes as the third major telco network, Mislatel, is gearing up for the rollout of its services anytime this year. The company is a newly formed consortium of Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corp., its subsidiary Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp., and China Telecom. It is set to compete against the industry’s so-called duopoly: Globe Telecom and PLDT Inc.’s Smart Communications.

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Once the bill lapses into law, the NTC will be given 90 days to write its implementing rules and regulations to ensure its implementation. After which, the telecom companies will be given six months to comply with the provisions of the bill. With that timeline, expect your current mobile number to be yours forever before the year ends.

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Elyssa Christine Lopez
Elyssa Christine Lopez is a staff writer of Esquire. Follow her on Twitter @elyssalopz
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