Number Portability FAQ

Today is a great day in the USA. Wireless Number Portability has arrived! I wrote about this last year and am glad that we have finally arrived to the point where number portability is now doable.

So what is number portability?

Well, effective today, you can change mobile phone provider without having to worry about changing your phone number. For example, if your phone number is (646) 555 1212, you can still keep the same number but choose between different mobile phone providers.

An added extra is that you can also take your land-line phone number and port it to a mobile phone line.

What’s the catch?

Mobile phone operators sometimes work on different networks: GSM, CDMA, or TDMA. If you are switching between companies that are using different networks, you might have to change phone.

If you are switching between GSM providers, all you may have to do is change your SIM card. If you are using a CDMA or TDMA provider, you might have to go to the store to get your phone reprogrammed with the new number.

If you are still under contract with a provider, some penalty fees will be assessed. Make sure that you are no longer under contract with your mobile provider if you want to avoid those charges.

How long does it take?

The FCC estimates that it should take about 3 hours but providers seem to have a different view on this. Estimates vary from provider to provider, however 3 days seems to be the average. Do not turn off your old provider immediately as you may find yourself without service if you do. Wait until your number has been moved to a new provider before canceling your old service.

At the current time, about 70% of the USA has access to wireless number portability. Full coverage for the rest of the country will take effect by May 24th, 2004.

How much does it cost?

This varies from provider to provider. However, most of the providers will attempt to lure you by lifting off any charges relating to porting your number.

Did I hear you say I could move from a land line to a mobile line and keep my number?

Yes, you did. While the industry is still trying to fight this provision, it is now in effect so you can change your land line to a mobile one without having to change your number. However, the availability of this may vary from region to region as wireless and land line companies argue over what land lines can and cannot move.

What else?

Wireless number portability is going to herald a new age of competition in the mobile phone space. Expect wireless providers to start offering much better deals as they now have one less way to lock you up.

Today is a great day for wireless consumers so have a happy P-day!

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