Court Lets Mobile Phone Numbers Follow Customers

from the as-expected dept

As expected, a US Court of Appeals has sided with the FCC and told the various wireless carriers that they do need to get ready for number portability. The wireless carriers had protested, saying that this was unnecessary and there was plenty of competition in the wireless arena already. That’s a pretty weak argument, of course. It’s pretty easy to find people who haven’t switched their mobile phone service simply because they didn’t want to lose their number. What will be more interesting, though, is to see the consequences of this move. The simple fact is that almost all carriers have service-level problems, and as people start to switch, they probably won’t be too happy with any carrier they end up with. Then, there’s the question of how the carriers will respond. Since much of their business model is based on subsidizing the phone purchase and trying to keep their customers for long periods of time to recoup those costs – I imagine they’re going to get a lot more strict about keeping people tied to long term contracts. Sure, if you must switch carriers, you’ll be able to, but be prepared to pay a huge “termination” fee.

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Comments on “Court Lets Mobile Phone Numbers Follow Customers”

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Aaron says:

No Subject Given

One thing I would hope to see from this is carriers providing better/faster service and more competitive plans for their networks.

I had a Sprint PCS phone for six years–and this month I finally told them to turn it off.

I had horrible service–one of their towers consistantly dropped my calls–and their customer support said “It’s probably overloaded” and that was it. No “Ok–we’ll get it fixed”, or “I’ll send someone out to look at the tower or install a new one”, just “Sorry–there are probably too many customers trying to use it at the moment”.

The only reason I stayed so long was because everyone had that phone number.

If people have the freedom to switch to other carriers and keep their number, I would have left Sprint a few years ago when this problem came up.

nil-ram says:

Aren't we already paying for this?

The phone companies complain that it will cost too much to provide number portability, and they don’t know how they’re going to do it, but there’s already a line item on my phone bill where they’re charging me for it. This is supposedly so they can build the infrastructure so they can provide number portability, but now they’re saying they don’t know how they’re going to do it? So what have they spent this money on, then?

goofrider says:

Re: Aren't we already paying for this?

It’s true that all the wireless operators had tried to extend the deadline (and suceeded) several times before. However, this time around, Verizon Wireless was the only one who filed for the extension. The other major operators (like AT&T Wireless and Cingular) had come out and publicly stated that they have the infrastructure and training in place to provide mobile number portability.

The Pyro Beastial Necrofeliac (user link) says:

Re: No Subject Given

Soon as congress makes them do it. The technology has been there for almost a decade now. It’s been widely available for over three years. But the cell phone giants are afraid that giving a user the ability to leave and take their number with them will hold the telecommunications industry accountable for crappy service. Couldn’t imagine why they would be so offended by this idea if they EVER lived up to their promises. Micro billing cycles my ass.

goofrider says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

Congress had made them do it a long time ago. FCC has mandated that mobile number portability be implemented as early as 1999. The wireless operators filed numerous extensions, which eventually led us to the current Nov 23, 2003 deadline.

The technology has NOT been available to the U.S. until about 2-3 years ago. While GSM and CDMA equipments support the feature, it was not compatible with how the U.S. used to allocate blocks of phone numbers. So pratically, mobile number portability could not have been realized until 1000-block pooling was implemented in the U.S. (which happened in 1998/1999 I believe).

Bob says:

The man behind the curtain

When mobile number portability actually happens, it will be interesting to see what (if any) reaction gets stirred up when people try to change carriers and find that their existing CDMA phones won’t work on their new carrier’s GSM network and vice versa. My hypothesis is that 90% or more of mobile users don’t even realize that this is an issue, and are going to be surprised when it hits them. However, I guess so long as you can still get a heavily subsidised new handset from your new carrier, this will be a non-issue.

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