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Number Portability Resource Center

Basics Catches Switching Links Availability Map Comments  15  

May 23, 2004, 7:05 PM   by Rich Brome   @rbrome

A complete guide to the FCC's new Number Portability rules, and links to other resources. Also, a discussion area for portability issues.


As you've probably heard by now, the FCC has mandated that U.S. wireless carriers allow customers to keep their phone numbers when switching carriers. The mandate is designed to make the market more competitive, by removing a barrier that previously made many people reluctant to switch carriers. This new freedom is called Wireless Local Number Portability (WLNP), and the mandate takes effect November 24, 2003.

The road leading up to this historic day was a difficult one. The FCC's original deadline for WLNP was June 1999. Carriers protested, citing technical difficulty and cost. Their case was not without merit, as upgrading systems to handle WLNP is estimated to cost many carriers over $50 million. The upgrades are expensive because portability changes fundamental aspects of how phone calls are routed and billed. Especially complex are roaming situations.

The FCC relented to carrier protest at first, pushing the deadline back three times - first to March 2000, then to November 2002, and most recently to November 2003. But this time the FCC has finally dug in its heels, stuck to the deadline, and now Number Portability is finally here.

Why switch?

Many people are fed up with their current carrier, and are looking forward to number portability to make a long-awaited switch. However, there may be reasons to switch even if you're not among the disgruntled masses. With the extra freedom of portability, you may find reasons to switch even if your current carrier isn't all that bad.

Because portability will make the market more competitive, many carriers have recently announced new services and more attractive pricing as a pre-emptive strike. For example, AT&T Wireless and Verizon Wireless recently launched new, faster data services, while Sprint and T-Mobile recently announced offers that include significantly longer night/weekend unlimited calling periods.

But wait...

If you have decided to switch carriers, November 24th isn't necessarily the magic day. Like opening week of a blockbuster movie, there is expected to be a huge rush the first few days. Compounding the problem, portability involves countless new, hastily-tested, interconnected computer systems going online all on the same day, under heavy load - something any IT person can tell you is a recipe for trouble.

It is unknown what kind of problems may arise, but most analysts and people in the industry agree that everything going smoothly from day one would be a miracle. Delays are the most common issue expected. Therefore, it may be prudent to wait until the rush is over - specifically, until media reports indicate things are running smoothly.

However, if you're trying to get the best deal, you probably shouldn't wait too long. Many of the current promotional offers will expire at or near the end of the year. Therefore, mid-December may be the best time to make your switch.

Consider the alternative

Just because you can keep your number, doesn't mean you should. Do people call you or have your number that you'd rather not hear from? Consider not keeping your number when you switch carriers. Of course, if you rely on your phone for business, that may not be an option. But for many people, it may be worth the hassle of telling friends and family the new number.

Cut the cord

One of the greatest aspects of portability is that it includes land lines as well. In fact, number portability between local land line carriers has been available since 1999.

But wireless portability includes the ability to move your number from a land line to a wireless phone, and vice-versa. If your land line is the primary number you give to other people, and you want to get rid of your land line, this is great opportunity to "cut the cord", and go completely wireless.



This forum is closed.

This forum is closed.


Nov 12, 2005, 3:46 PM

service to hold my mobile number

do you know if there exists a service that would allow me to port my mobile number to them to hold / reserve it so that later i could port it back to the mobile company of my choice?

Aug 11, 2004, 12:49 PM

Landline to VOIP portability?

Hi, I would like to know what are the portability issues with going from a Landline to VOIP? If I look up on Vonage my number and exchange it says that it is NOT portable. Is this a Vonage issue or Verizon? Should I be able to port any landline number to VOIP if is is in the MSA100?

Thanks in advance!


May 25, 2004, 2:09 PM

thanks rich!!!!

thanks for getting this info out to every body in a easy to understand format. one of my friends was going from alltel to att wireless so she could get a blackberry, luckily she just called to See what i was doing. in conversation she said she had to go by the alltel store to disconnect so she would be able to go to att tommorrow and get her new phone. i am glad she called because i saved her from losing her number. so my point alot of folks do not know what to do and you article explains everything in a format that even if you don't work in the wireless industry you can even understand.
Yea... thanks Rich for the great write-up!

I hadn't been here for a while and the site has come a long ways from when you were testing on a T68 Smile CONGRATS for a great site!

Nov 24, 2003, 6:49 PM


Would comcast digital phone service cause a home # to not work with LNP?
Are you asking if you can port a number from your cable provider to wireless?

If so, then yes, you should be able to. In that situation, there's a still a landline phone company involved - most likely a CLEC partnered with your cable company. Porta...
HI Heather!

How is the snow in Minnesota?

Comcast digital phone gives out false info.

You have to switch your home # to Qwest, before bringing it to SprintPCS. I promise it will work, because this is what I had to do.

Jan 28, 2004, 11:30 PM

Questions re: portability

I am thinking about switching providers and retaining my current cell # but have a few questions. Lets say I take my cingular # and transfer it to Verizon's service. can i still receive email to my phone via my cingular address ( Next question, how does the free cell to cell work. If other verizon subscribers call my number (which is technically cingular even though i've switched to verizon) is it still a free call?

Any information would be helpfull
When you switch, it should be as if the number was always with your new provider.
sportbiker3 said:
... can i still receive email to my phone via my cingular address ( ...

No. That add...

Dec 11, 2003, 9:12 AM

Where are we going?

What wireless company are most consumers porting to? ... »

FCC Fields Consumer Complaints
By Mark Rockwell
December 9, 2003
news@2 direct

WASHINGTON -- In its first ...

Nov 24, 2003, 4:46 AM

Top 100 MSA's

Does this apply for landlinewireless only? Or does this apply to wireless->wireless as well?
This does apply for landline-wireless portability and can be done at any RadioShack or other wireless store for Verizon or any other carrier.
You mean does the Top-100-MSA limitation apply? Yes - it applies to both types of transfers, not just landline-to-wireless.
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