Mobile phones, mobile numbers

by Eszter Hargittai on October 22, 2003

For those who may not be in the know, starting Nov 24th it will be possible to switch your cell phone provider in the U.S. without having to get a new phone number. There have been several extensions granted to cell providers on meeting this requirement so we probably shouldn’t hold our breath, but it may happen this time. Wireless number portability – the official name for all this – should be useful for those who have been deterred from switching due to the costs of having to change one’s phone number.

Note that if you’ve been hearing from your cell phone company with seemingly great deals that would lock you in for two years, you may want to wait a bit longer. Once you’re locked into a deal, you would still need to pay penalties if you switch providers before your contract is over. Some advise against switching right away noting that it may be better to wait a few months to make sure the system really works when you do switch. Also, it may be that the carriers will pass on the costs of portability to customers so the new option won’t be without drawbacks.

Since those in Europe and Asia have had this option for a while now, is there anything else we should be concerned about?

Also, if anyone happens to know the Canyouhearmenow Verizon guy, could you send him to my office? I’m curious to see what happens when he doesn’t get a response to his annoying question.



Mithras 10.23.03 at 2:58 am

Also, please note, you can switch your home phone number to be your cell phone number as of the same date.

For those who want to keep their home number but abandon their land line, it’s a great thing.


Keith M Ellis 10.23.03 at 5:42 pm

I know it’s seperate legislation, but how does this relate to the US-wide number portability thing? That’s supposed to happen someday soon, although I’ve heard little about it. I know that about six years ago IBM (and I’m sure many others) was building a bunch of new telecomm switches to allow this functionality, which was required by new legislation. That’s what I was told, anyway.

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