Number Portability Rule Hurts AT&T, Cingular

For a while now, I’ve been wondering why the various wireless carriers were fighting number portability (which would let customers keep their mobile phone numbers while switching carriers). It seemed like an admission that those carriers knew their networks sucked – since they assumed they would lose customers to number portability. Of course, the problem is that all the carriers have problems, and I always figured the net result would be a wash. Carrriers who lost customers would quickly find them replaced by dissatisfied customers from other wireless carriers. However, a new study suggests that AT&T and Cingular have much more to lose when number portability comes around. Verizon and T-Mobile are positioned to gain customers. The reasoning is a bit sketchy. They seem to indicate that AT&T and Cingular are most at risk because they’re still upgrading their TDMA networks – but T-Mobile is in pretty much the same boat. The argument around T-Mobile, though, is that it’s the smallest of the “major” carriers, and thus has nothing to lose with number portability.

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