Filipinos will be able to switch between mobile network providers seamlessly and keep their phone numbers starting Sept. 30, 2021, executives from the country's telcos said Thursday.

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Implementation of the Mobile Number Portability, or MNP, is a P120-million collaborative effort between Globe Telecom, Smart Communications, and DITO Telecommunity.

What's mobile number portability?

Also know as MNP, the process allows for the seamless and convenient switching between different network providers using just one number.

This means your Globe number from 10 years ago can switch to Smart if you want to try their services, and shift to DITO months later if you feel like itall without having to send your friends a message saying "Hey, this is my new number."

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Testing for the process took 22 months. The complexity of the build and network integration required a comprehensive test across all networks, said Bryan Patrick Lim, Vice President for Product Innovation and Capability at Globe.

Each network has a nuanced process, said Chief Administrative Officer Atty. Adel Tamano. Still, all three worked to integrate systems over the past two years.

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The three telcos comprise the management of the Telecommunications Connectivity Incorporated, or TCI, which is tasked with the monitoring and operational governance of the process.

The creation of the TCI "is compliance with the law, using global best practice, and for the benefit of the consumer, for simple mobile operation switching," said Mario G. Tamayo, Senior Vice President and Head of Technology at PLDT and Smart.

Collaborative effort

Several agencies, companies, and people are working together to make this happen. Aside from the networks and the TCI, the National Telecommunications Commission and the Department of Information and Communications Technology are also onboard to make MNP a reality for Filipinos.

Telecommunications software company Syniverse will handle processing of the MNP and act as a solutions provider. The global company provided tech infrastructure, software, and services.

How do you switch?

Users will be allowed to 'port out' of their current provider and 'port in' to a new one, free of charge.

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Porting in and out requires an eligibility check. Once cleared, the user will be sent a 9-digit Unique Subscriber Code. The whole process takes about 48 hours, TCI General Manager Melanie Manuel said.

Subscribers can expect a maximum downtime of four hours while porting out and in takes place.

Getting a new SIM may require going to a store for claiming, but Manuel said telcos had been working continuously to make this process easier, especially during the pandemic.

Prepaid and Postpaid

Porting in and out can be done from postpaid to prepaid and vice versa. When it comes to inquiries and settling bills, you can contact your current provider for assistance and payment.

Again, porting in and out is free, but you'll have to make monthly payments if you're porting into a postpaid subscription.

Clean records

While porting in and out is accessible to everyone, you can only do so if you have no liabilities with your current network.

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If you're a postpaid subscriber, you have to finish your contract or settle dues before you can port out.

You'll have to stay for a while

There's no limit to how many times you can port in and out, but you do have to wait 60 days before you can port out again.

Is my information safe?

"All security measures are in place," Manuel said. MNP hasn't launched yet but all three networks and the TCI complied with data and privacy laws to ensure the safety of all customers.

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