Next month, cell phone customers around the country may be giving thanks that they can finally switch carriers, but still keep their cell phone number. Local number portability is finally coming to the wireless industry.
If you’ve been unhappy with your cell phone provider for some time, you may want to put a switch on hold for just a little bit longer. As of November 24, the FCC says you’ll be able to keep your cell number even if you choose a different cell phone company. And that means your fingers will do a little less walking.
How many people have your cell phone number?
“I have about 100 phone numbers in my address book, so I’d say at least 100 people have my cell phone number,” says Kara Hewitt, cell phone customer.
“My husband and I are on the same plan and he has millions of contacts, a slight exaggeration, but lots of work contacts on the phone and all his friends phone numbers in his phone and he doesn’t want to lose his number,” says Pam Flores.
Changing cell phone numbers today is a major hassle. As of November 24, you’ll be able to change wireless carriers but keep your cell phone number. Plenty of cell phone customers are already plotting their switch.
“As many as one third of cell phone customers want to change but have been held back from doing so because they couldn’t keep their phone number,” says Jon Van of the Chicago Tribune.
Wireless companies are bracing for the aftershock.
“Some wireless carriers have suggested instituting new business practices, such as one-time porting fees, or special porting hours, like you can port at any time between 1 and 5am in the morning. Or making customers pay their bills in full before they port to another provider. Obviously, these aren’t very consumer-friendly practices,” says Carolyn Schamberger of Verizon.
Intense competition between wireless carriers should not only cut down on fees, but help consumers find better deals laced with bonuses and freebies.
“This would be an excellent time to sign on to get extra minutes, extra features or to get a brand new phone at very attractive prices or maybe even for free,” Van says.
Because wireless portability is so new, the kinks may not be worked out for some time. So be sure you take along the information you need to ensure a smooth move to your new carrier.
“Simple advice is to take your bill with you when you talk to the new carrier so the information you provide to them is accurate as to your name and any of the billing information that is necessary to implement local number portability,” says John Muleta, of the FCC.
Just make sure you don’t disconnect your current service before you sign on with a new carrier or you could lose your cell number.
To help consumers understand the ins and outs of local number portability, the FCC has put information up on it’s website, www.fcc.gov.
Verizon Wireless www.MyRatePlan.com (Compare wireless plans and prices)