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Wireless Networking United States Hardware Technology

What Has Number Portability Done For You? 756

Posted by timothy
from the absolutely-nothing-huh dept.
Coldeagle writes "Number portability has been around for a few days now, I was wondering; have any of you fellow Slashdot readers switched carriers? How was your experience, and have you seen any price warring since it went into place?" Or is number portability so far more hype than happenin'?
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What Has Number Portability Done For You?

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  • by garcia (6573) *
    Of course it doesn't do anything for me. I am locked into a two-year agreement. I can't change carriers, look into other carriers, or even think about other carriers without first being charged $170.00.

    Number portability... The commercials seem to point at the fact that you can now have your home phone number moved to a cell phone. While I do use my cell phone more than my land line I must say that having an actual phone plugged into the wall not really requiring any batteries, chargers, or antennas is
    • by klocwerk (48514) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:06PM (#7620621) Homepage
      sorry to be rude, but was a very worthless .02

      you haven't tried to move your number, you're just pissed about choosing to sign a 2 year contract.

      Why would you say it's a gimmick when you just don't have option to use it because you were stupid enough to sign away two years of money for what sounds like awful service?
      what gimmick bought your money?
    • by Coventry (3779) * on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:08PM (#7620632) Journal
      Are you using Verizon?
      I know verizon lets you switch plans in mid-stream, as long as you get a new term on the selected plan that is longer than what remains on your current agreement. IE, if you have 14 months left, you have to get a new 2 year agreement.

      I've never had a problem switching to new promotional plans since I got my phones (I have 3 phones in my name for myself, my wife, and the business - no land lines). This may just be a Verizon thing though.
      • FWIW, Sprint PCS will do the same thing for you. Not that it matters much to me... with my low usage, I currently have a plan that is cheaper than anything offered. By anyone, in fact.

        However, I'm hoping that number portability will lower prices and improve services all around. Despite mediocre reception at my last residence and my current job, I've stuck with Sprint as it has allowed me to keep the only mobile phone number I have ever had; I'm sure others have put up with poor service for a consistent

    • It's nice for those of us who have been wanting to switch companies and not tell 200+ people what our new phone number is. This is especially important for us geeks who have no land line, and use our cell phone numbers on our resumes.

      Personally I have AT&T, but I want to switch to Verizon because my friends all have plans that give extra mobile-to-mobile minutes, which would be useful since they are the core group of people I talk to. Up until a few days ago though, I couldn't do it because of complica
      • Personally I have AT&T, but I want to switch to Verizon because my friends all have plans that give extra mobile-to-mobile minutes, which would be useful since they are the core group of people I talk to.

        Well, good sir, (or madam) since you are with AT&T, you are S.O.L. I tried leaving AT&T for T-Mobile and taking my phone number with me. They didn't cough it up. AT&T is in violation of the FCC order mandating number portability.

        More details here. [slashdot.org]

    • by filth grinder (577043) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:15PM (#7620722)
      Not to be rude, but I think this reply is more of, "I can't use the feature right now, so I'm going to piss and moan about other problems being more important"

      Number portability is great, and needed. It's not a gimick. Here at the office, it is most welcomed. We recently reviewed our cellphone planes. Cingular was just bending s over a sink. We wanted out. We shopped around, looked at different carriers, and picked the one that best suited us (Sprint).
      Of course, this was several months ago. After switching carriers, we had to distribute all new phones, everyone had to learn new phone numbers, we needed to update business cards, and then try and update all our contacts.

      What if someone we met at a conference six months ago though, hey, you know so-so's product would work for us real well here, I think I even have his card. He calls a sales reps phone... nope no answer. He can fall back and call the main office number, but thats not good. It gives the appearance of being unprofessional.

      If we had number portability, the transition would be seamless for the users.

      Bitching about 2 year deals is dumb. You can find PLENTY of one year plans. Also, there are TONS and TONS of per-use plans for people who don't like long term plans. You can go to Best Buy and pick up a Virgin mobile phone that is pay as you go.

      Your complaining seems like sour grapes to me. Looks like you chose a bad plan and carrier and now are completely upset with the cellphone world.
    • by Frac (27516) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:18PM (#7620764)
      Of course it doesn't do anything for me. I am locked into a two-year agreement. I can't change carriers, look into other carriers, or even think about other carriers without first being charged $170.00.

      The reason you're locked in is because your carrier pays a large subsidy upfront for your expensive cell phone. If you walk in with your own phone, no one is stopping you from getting a no-contract service.

      The commercials seem to point at the fact that you can now have your home phone number moved to a cell phone. While I do use my cell phone more than my land line I must say that having an actual phone plugged into the wall not really requiring any batteries, chargers, or antennas is nice.

      But for those people that never had a cell phone until now, the number that all their friends and family have known for years are now portable! That's convenient.

      Honestly, it's just a gimmick.

      The 6.7 million people living in my hometown (Hong Kong), would like to disagree [slashdot.org].

      They look fantastic until you pull up their coverage area... Here in the Twin Cities Metro area they have great coverage... Problem is I routinely travel outside of the metro area into western and southern MN along with western WI. No coverage there.

      Caveat Emptor. It's not really T-Mobile's fault if you decided to pull up their coverage map AFTER being locked into a 2-year contract with them from having them subsidize your pricey cell phone.

      I recently relocated to Bay Area, switched to AT&T GSM from T-Mobile because coverage is much better (no penalty since my T-Mobile contract expired a year ago), and I'm happily locked into a 2 year contract, because I got a free bluetooth camera phone that costs $300-400 retail in Europe/Asia.

      Until my cell service is mandated not to drop calls, not to require as much recharging, and not to have locked in contracts of 2 years, it won't do me any good.

      What really won't do you any good is if you walk into any long term contracts without evaluating the quality of service it offers. Do more research next time.
    • by Elwood P Dowd (16933) <judgmentalist@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:21PM (#7620790) Journal
      My cell phone doesn't work all that well in my apartment, it rarely gets a call through on the first four or five times on the weekend, and it drops calls like mad when a plane flies overhead.

      Sounds like an excellent reason to use number portability in two years when your contract is up. That's what I did. GSM carriers get shitty reception in my building. Verizon gets perfect reception. My contract was already up. I got a Verizon phone two months ago so that I could make calls from my apartment, and now that number portability is here, I'm going to switch my old number onto my Verizon phone. (Yes, I've been paying for two cellphones for a few months now.)

      Worth it for me. I've kept my number and I've got excellent reception in my house. No local phone necessary.

      My only question is how are we non-cable-watching non-land-line-phone-using people supposed to get broadband internet access. Fortunately my roomie feels the need to have a land line, so I can piggyback DSL. I've got a bunch of friends that just don't have internet access 'cause of this.
  • I did... (Score:5, Informative)

    by curunir (98273) * on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:01PM (#7620542) Homepage Journal
    ...and it seems like the process is relatively painless.

    One tip for those who are thinking of trying to port their number. Do *not* do the process online. I ordered my new phone that way and the number ported two days before my new phone arrived. As soon as your number ports, your old phone stops working for anything besides 911 calls. Needless to say, I was without a cell phone for two days while I waited for my new phone to arrive.

    Other than that, everything went pretty smoothly.
    • The whole thing is a scam. Unless companies allow you to go month by month, you can't switch b/c their service is bad. Seriously, how many people had the opportunity to switch, but would not b/c they would lose their number.
      • Re:I did... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Knara (9377)
        Anyone with the foresight to not sign a multi-year contract (which isn't necessary, and people would know this if they did their homework) can move any time they please. I've been with SprintPCS for 2 years, and the only reason I haven't left them is cuz I'm lazy. But I could. Sorry, your own shortsightedness when it comes to chosing a provider did you in, not the Evil Phone Company
      • Re:I did... (Score:5, Informative)

        by pyros (61399) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:13PM (#7620697) Journal
        Unless companies allow you to go month by month, you can't switch b/c their service is bad.

        Sprint odesn't advertise it, but you don't need a contract with them. They just charge you $10 a month extra without it. I know this first hand after calling to complain about the $10 charge when I had, in fact, signed an agreement. Also, after your agreement term has passed, they just keep billing you at the same rate, no sudden surge in sales calls to sign up for a new plan or anything. I'm pretty happy with it. I just wish they has a selection of phones without antennas.

        Seriously, how many people had the opportunity to switch, but would not b/c they would lose their number.

        Me, for one, when I had to replace my phone and Sprint wasn't offering any deals for phone upgrades to existing customers. If I didn't have to buy new phones, I would consider switching to Verizon or T-Mobile, now that I can keep my number.

        • I just wish they has a selection of phones without antennas.

          Just cary one around for a few days. Then you won't have an antenna anymore. problem solved.
      • Re:I did... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by milkman_matt (593465) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:33PM (#7620922)
        The whole thing is a scam. Unless companies allow you to go month by month, you can't switch b/c their service is bad. Seriously, how many people had the opportunity to switch, but would not b/c they would lose their number.

        Why exactly do you say that this is a scam? It doesn't seem like one to me, i'm not going to get screwed when I leave my current carrier that i've been with for 6 years for someone else. The only thing that's going to happen to me, is i'll probably get better service... I wish more scams had effects like that.

        I'm the guy you're talking about, though, I've had millions of 'opportunities' (more like urges) to switch carriers due to insufficient coverage and piss poor customer support. Sometimes it's good, but often enough it sucks, so I want to switch to someone new. Why did I put up with it you ask? Because 4 years into my service when I started shopping around, I had already given my number to several people and I didn't want to have to either A) Call several people and update my number with them, or B) Say fuck 'em, i'm switching. Now that number portability is available, I'm jumping ship after the hollidays (and after my bankroll recoups from the holidays).

        Just as a sidenote... does anyone have any suggestions as far as carriers that you've noticed that have above average coverage? Or customer support? My girlfriend has T-Mobile, and while the coverage isn't always top notch, she will never run out of good things to say about their customer support.. I myself have Verizon at the top of my list as far as potential carriers to switch over to, they seem to have some of the best coverage maps i've seen, and their customer service at their stores seems outstanding... Any opinions?

        -matt

    • Re:I did... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by red floyd (220712)
      Lucky you.

      On 11/26, I bought two phones from T-Mobile, and switched my service from AT&T to T-Mobile. One phone took 5 days to transfer, the other still hasn't transferred. I'm filing a complaint with the FCC and the CA PUC.
      • switched my service from AT&T to T-Mobile .... the other still hasn't transferred

        Last year, I tried to switch my land line number away from AT&T to another land-line carrier. The new carrier could not get the number because AT&T would not release it. Eventually, we ran out of time and stuck with AT&T.

        Moral of the story, don't expect too much!
      • Re:I did... (Score:3, Interesting)

        You too? I got a new contract and two phones from Verizon on 11/26. I'm trying to get a number ported to each of them - one coming from Cingular, the other from ANOTHER Verizon account, and neither one is turned on yet. They keep telling me that it's Cingular's fault.
      • by belphegore (66832) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @05:22PM (#7622121) Homepage
        I tried porting a number from Sprint to Cingular, and they came back and said "not possible", which is bullshit. I decided to just forget that, and port my landline number to the new phone instead, from SBC (which is the parent of Cingular). They said "not possible". I've filed FCC complaints against both Sprint and SBC, and have been hounding SBC customer support for the last 6 days to get this resolved. The long and short of it is, there's a big fine for them to pay if they're not following the FCC mandate, and there's a very easy online [fcc.gov] way to file complaints with the FCC. Who knows how long it takes for the FCC to actually process the complaints, but I figure it can't hurt the later-adopters for us early-adopters to give the telcos a bureaucratic kick in the ass.
  • by Sikmaz (686372) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:01PM (#7620552)
    With my current carrier, I called them and told them I was thinking about switching and they chopped $15 off my bill if I would stay.

    It can't hurt to ask!
    • by JonnyRo88 (639703) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:05PM (#7620605) Homepage Journal
      I was in a contract, and have been renewing the same contract for about 4 years, paying almost $3000 to the carrier (we have a few phones). When i had a problem with my phone and it was not resolved to my satisfaction my wife threatened to cancel our contract right there (paying the termination fee), and they gave me a new phone and refunded the upgrade costs.

      Beforehand they would have said, if you cancel your contract you will have to change your number.
      • Exactly, I really think that this will help drive prices down and bring service up.

        I have been outside my contract with sprint for over a year and I have refused to change my plan just to avoid getting into a new contract. Now I have the freedom to say to sprint (Or any other provider) "I am sorry but I feel that I am getting better value elsewhere". I was never rude, I simply told them the exact deal I am being offered elsewhere and asked if it was possible for them to match or beat it and they did.

        If
  • All I know... (Score:5, Informative)

    by chrismcdirty (677039) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:02PM (#7620555) Homepage
    ..is that Sprint is charging me $2.20/month for it.
    • Verizon let's you do this for free.
    • your signature (Score:4, Informative)

      by PaulBu (473180) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:11PM (#7620668) Homepage
      Remember: The old adage "fight fire with fire" does not apply to non-metaphorical fires.

      Actually it does -- a wildfire sucks air from earth surface like crazy, so if you ignite another fire just at the right place at the right time it will be propagating towards the original fire and when they collide both will have no more fuel to burn.

      Learned from some cowboys/indians book when I was a kid ;-)

      Paul B.
      • Is this why the firefighters light 'backfires'?

        I always thought they were just a controlled burn, to elimiate a fuel source and keep the wildfre from traking down a particular path.

        wbs.
    • Re:All I know... (Score:5, Informative)

      by LostCluster (625375) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:15PM (#7620711)
      Call, complain... that fee just might vaporize on you.

      There's no government tax for number portibilty, Sprint's simply trying to tell you that because of this new set of rules, they've decided to raise your rates by $2.20 a month. They can do that, the contract you signed with them says they can. But, if you're on a month-to-month status, you can use number portibilty to break away from them right here right now. Even if you've got time to go on your contract, you can put them on notice that if they don't retract that fee, they have a 0% chance of keeping you when the contract ends... or you might just ask them to calculate the penalty fee and see if it's worth paying.
      • Re:All I know... (Score:3, Informative)

        by HollowSky (680312)
        Yep. Additionally read the Terms of Service for your provider.

        I hated Sprint. It stopped working in my apartment which was most problematic as I was using it as my primary phone. They were most understanding (Gee, that sucks...)
        I was able to use the Terms of Service against them b/c they changed it within the previous month and there was a non-acceptance clause which gave me an out without a cancellation fee.

        Taken from the Sprint ToS page:
        ...
        Terms and Conditions of Services
        Effective as of Novembe
    • Re:All I know... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Boogaroo (604901) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @04:44PM (#7621718) Homepage
      Disclaimer: I work for T-Mobile

      I know most carriers charge you a PER MONTH fee, so it could cost you a fair amount over the long term to keep your number. T-Mobile does not charge any fees for keeping your number when you port to them.

      One carrier, Qwest will kill your home phone as well if you port your Qwest cellphone to another carrier. Seems kinda rude to me.

      All in all I havn't gotten nearly as many people that want to port their number in the last few days. I'd say only 15% of those with existing service I sign up want to port their number. A lot of people like the idea of a new number simply to stop unneccessary calls from people. When you have a cellphone I find people will call that number exclusively even if you're at home, so you burn minutes when you don't need to.

      As far as big sales to keep existing customers, you bet! Normally (I feel)T-Mobile beats everyone's plan price hands down, but since November the competition's gotten a lot stiffer. Not that everyone gets those promotional plans, but those promotions are top notch from every carrier. It's a prime time to sign up with anyone right now really. In six months prices will probably go back to what they were since the hype will have died down.
  • by bluprint (557000) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:02PM (#7620556) Homepage
    Have you noticed how every carrier has a commercial now, saying that if you switch to them, you can keep your old number? As if they came up with this and are the only carrier with which you can do that...
    • by sab39 (10510)
      I thought it was funny how every provider was fighting tooth and nail to oppose these regulations but they still jumped at the chance to advertise the new "feature" as soon as they were forced to provide it.

      It's almost as if they knew that customers wanted this and they can make a profit by offering it! What a radical notion!
  • by husemann (15965) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:02PM (#7620557) Homepage
    ...and I've made use of it taking my mobile number with me when switching GSM providers and also when switching from POTS to VoIP/cable.

    (oh, and, yes, I'm talking about Europe here 8=)
  • I've been using Sprint for a couple years and coverage where I am (rochester, ny), is spotty at best. I have been thinking about switching to Verizon, but I have yet to speak with anyone who has actually switched carriers. I see Radio Shack ads that say that I can simply bring in my bill and pick a carrier/phone and I'm set. Can it really be this simple? How can I do it and avoid RadioShack?
    • Re:I'd like to (Score:2, Informative)

      by Ahlee (160047)
      Yes. It really is that simple. I brought in my bill when I switched from US Cellular to Verizon, paid some fee for "processing," and was out the door within 40 minutes with my new Verizon carrier handling calls with my originally US Cellular number.

      As far as avoiding RadioShack, around here (Iowa) we have a lot of Verizon shops/Technolgy Huts in the malls. They handle hookups/etc. Worth a shot I guess.

      Other than that, Radio Shack is a lot better now than they were. Then again, I've never had a proble
    • If you want to avoid Radio Shack, just take your bill (which is your proof that you really do possess the number that you will be porting) to anybody who sells phones attached to the service you want to switch to... they'll all be more than happy to help you.

      Radio Shack is happy with all this because in most of their stores, they have more than one carrier, so anybody upset at carrier A can go to B, and anybody upset at B can go to A at their store.
  • Painless? Hardly (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Wicked Panda (10814)
    Maybe you can move numbers around.

    However, for most of us who don't change our phones with the changing of the seasons, it just means it costs us more!
  • by rossz (67331) <ogre@@@geekbiker...net> on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:03PM (#7620574) Homepage Journal
    It has cost me 50 cents a month for several years. All the time that the phone companies have been collecting this fee to cover the costs of providing number portability they fought tooth-and-nail against it. Yeah, they're real happy to collect a fee for a service, but they're not exactly thrilled about providing said service.
  • by liquidpele (663430) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:03PM (#7620575) Journal

    My friend was switching to cingular, but ATT would not release the number, so he had 2 phones, one would call with the number, the other would answer the number...

    He had to hold on the phone for over 4 hours...
    • 4 hours! He was f-ing lucky.

      My wife's phone was in TX only mode (RX on the old handset) for 24 hours (T-Mobile), and my phone number STILL hasn't been transferred (after 6 days)! I've been on the phone with T-Mobile customer service every friggin day!
  • by retro128 (318602) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:04PM (#7620586)
    It'd be cool to be able to transfer my home number to my cell and carry it with me wherever, not to mention cutting out the cost of my phone line, but I'm concerned that the system is not quite working properly yet. I think I'll wait until I hear more success stories.

    The other issue that I am wondering about is telemarketing. It's illegal for telemarketers to call your cell phone, but if I take my land line number and give it to my cell phone, how will the telemarketers know not to call it? Did the FCC ever say anything about this?
    • by Zathrus (232140) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @04:12PM (#7621369) Homepage
      It's illegal for telemarketers to call your cell phone

      No, it's merely against a DMA (Direct Marketing Association) rule, violate the rule and I presume the DMA can take action against you if you're a member. There's no requirement to be a member, of course, but as with most industry associations there are advantages, mainly in the lobbying and legal arenas I suspect.

      The DMA also knows what will happen if they start calling cell phones -- there will be a Federal law akin to the Junk Fax law, and there will be no allowances for mistakes. Right now they at least get the "oops" factor and make damn sure that it gets entered on a do not call list (another advantage of the DMA I suspect -- you may not want to share numbers that just ask you not to call, but you do want to share numbers you should never call like cell phones and emergency service (hospitals/fire/police stations)).
  • It's been my experience that most people using cell phones are in contracts and unable to leave their current carrier even if they wanted to. Of those who have gone past their contracts, they are reluctant to change because they don't want to be stuck in another contract for a year or two years. Most providers will do anything and everything they can to slap you back into a contract.
    • Yes, and that's probably going to become more of a problem in the future. Changing phone numbers was a big disincentive for changing carriers. With that no longer an issue, the carriers will probably come up with large cancellation of service fees as a new disincentive. This might take a while to become commonplace, so now is probably the time make the switch if you have been considering one.
    • A few people have mentioned this and it's a valid point, but I don't think it invalidates the use of number portability. I'm in a contract right now with AT&T Wireless. They're great ... except their service cuts out whenver you get within ten feet of my apartment. This is the only reason I have a land line, but I'd prefer to save the $30 a month and go fully wireless.

      AT&T won't fix the service problem - nor should they be required to do so, because carriers can't guarrantee perfect service eve

  • by Steve 'Rim' Jobs (728708) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:05PM (#7620598) Journal
    The fcc has plenty of info:

    http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/numbport.ht ml

    Background: What is Telephone Number Portability

    Telephone number portability is a service that provides residential and business telephone customers with the ability to retain, at the same location, their existing local telephone numbers when switching from one local telephone service provider to another.

    In 1996 Congress reexamined and changed the Telecommunications Act to promote competition and reduce regulation in all telecommunications markets. Before that time, a major barrier to competition was the inability of customers to switch from one telephone company to another while retaining the same telephone number. Congress directed local telephone companies to offer "telephone number portability."

    In order to provide the kind of telephone number portability envisioned by Congress, telephone companies had to invest in upgrades to their networks. In 1998 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) evaluated the cost involved in local number portability and determined that existing local telephone companies were allowed, but not required, to recover the costs of implementing and providing telephone number portability through two kinds of charges: (1) charges paid by other telephone companies that use a telephone company's number portability facilities to process their own calls; and (2) a small, fixed monthly charge assessed on telephone customers or "end users."

    What is the Long-Term Telephone Number Portability End-Use Charge?

    The long-term number portability end-user charge is a fixed, monthly charge through which local telephone companies may recover certain costs of providing long-term number portability service. Recoverable costs include those for creating new facilities, physically upgrading or improving the existing public switched telephone network, and performing the ongoing functions associated with providing long-term number portability. FCC rules state that incumbent local telephone companies may, but are not required to, recover certain costs of providing number portability by charging their customer a monthly fee.

    Am I Required to Pay the Long-Term Portability Charge if I Am a Lifeline Assistance Program Customer?

    Carriers can not impose the monthly long-term number portability charge on customers of the Lifeline Assistance Program.

    Does Long-Term Telephone Number Portability Mean That I Can Keep the Same Telephone Number if I Move Across Town or to Another State?

    The type of telephone number portability that local telephone companies must provide is called "service provider portability." Service provider portability allows a customer to keep his telephone number when changing local telephone companies. It does not allow customers to take their telephone numbers with them when they move.

    Can I Keep the Same Wireline Telephone Number if I Switch My Local Telephone Service to a Cellular or Personal Communications Service (PCS) Telephone Service Provider or Vice-Versa?

    Cellular and other wireless carriers are not required to provide telephone number portability at this time. For this reason, customers cannot retain the same local telephone number if they change their local service from a wireline local telephone company to a wireless carrier, like a cellular or PCS service provider. Likewise, customers cannot switch from a cellular or PCS service provider to a local wireline service provider and keep the same cellular or PCS telephone number.

    Will All Telephone Customers Be Charged for Telephone Number Portability?

    Local telephone companies can only charge customers in areas where local telephone number portability is available to all consumers. Telephone number portability may not be available in all service areas.

    Does the FCC Require Local Telephone Companies to Bill Consumers for Long-term Telephone Number Portability?

    The FCC allows, but does not require, local telephone c
  • Sure you can take your number, but what good does that do you when you are stuck in a 2 year contract? Most carriers require at least a 1 year commitment for a free/discounted handset. I think this will become more popular as people's contracts expire and such.

    I guess the only nice thing about the contract is that it does give you some leverage. I have called my carrier (T-mobile) for dropped calls, and they always credit my account per the contract (Read carefully). Additionally, the contract endi
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I mean, isn't getting a new number always a great opportunity of getting rid of those callers you never want to speak with?

    At least that's how I see it.
  • by Arkham (10779) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:07PM (#7620627)
    I work for a certain wireless company with a particularly emphasized logo.

    We are pushing off the go-live date of at least one major project until early next year because customer service has been getting a LOT of WLNP calls (WLNP = wireless local number portability), way more than expected, and don't want any releases that will further increase call volume. So I don't know if slashdotters are porting, but a lot of people are. I just hope they are porting TO us and not FROM us :)

    Heck, my own mother, who is as non-tech-saavy as they come, is considering porting her home phone number to a wireless phone and just getting rid of the landline. This law is going to shake up the industry. You may even see one or two wireless carriers going under as a result. They've been predicting for years that the 5 major carriers would eventually boil down to 3. This may be the catalyst to make that happen.
    • If the company you work at is Cingular, like I think it is... then you don't have much to worry about. They have really good service (in Atlanta anyways) and the price is decent for someone like me who only has a cell-phone.

      If you're right, I can only hope the government isn't stupid enough to start bailing out dying companies. And it could be a good time to short stocks of bigger, bloated, land-line companies.
    • by Natalie's Hot Grits (241348) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:57PM (#7621159) Homepage
      "This law is going to shake up the industry. You may even see one or two wireless carriers going under as a result. They've been predicting for years that the 5 major carriers would eventually boil down to 3. This may be the catalyst to make that happen."

      Until consumer rights laws which:
      - Disallow SIM Locking on cellphones
      - Disallow lengthly contracts
      - Disallow Price fixing on handsets
      - Disallow Price fixing on roaming

      are passed, the cellular providers will all win. The above bulleted items are only allowed in north america, and only because of hard lobbying by the providers.

      In any other continent, you go to a cell phone store and buy phones OUTRIGHT, no plans to go with it, no contracts, you simply BUY the phone (at usually half of US MSRP price), then you call up a carrier of your choice start service. They give you a SIM and you stick it in your phone, boom, instantly it works. if you don't like their service after a few months, switch providers. Swap your your SIM card with a prepaid card from another provider, go to another country? Buy a prepaid SIM from that country and pay 5-10c/minute insted of 2$/minute.

      Around here, cellular providers lock the handsets to their SIM card so you cannot take a handset from one provider to another, even if they use the same exact handset. Don't be fooled by some salesperson's claims that "the radio is 'optimally tuned' to our frequency" because that is just a load of BS. if you are using a GSM phone in the United States, consumer rights laws basically say you will get assraped by your provider. If you go overseas with a GSM Phone purchased within the United States, you can be sure that it will be useless because of the SIM card lock in place on the phone. You will be required to pay $2+/minute roaming charges for usage on your US Provider's sim card.

      Number portability isn't gonna do anything except give cellular providers more revenue (they add 2$ to everyone's bill, on top of all other fees and taxes already being charged) and more customers. People won't be switching cellular providers fast, they will simply stay loyal to the providers that have been assraping them for their entire cellular lives.

      This whole number portability has been a joke, whoever wrote the law must be in the pockets of the big 5. Free revenue, with negligable costs added in database management. there is NO network upgrade requirement. They don't have to go to each tower and hang new transmitters. they simply add a few tables to a fucking database sitting in their corporate bunker. and it costs them $2/month to do that per customer? perpetually? until the end of time? Just wait until they pass laws which disallow SIM locking, is that gonna cost us another $2/month regulatory hidden fee?

      note: this is a rant, but facts presented are true.
      • Cynic (Score:3, Insightful)

        by uptownguy (215934)
        People won't be switching cellular providers fast, they will simply stay loyal to the providers that have been assraping them for their entire cellular lives.

        You are assuming that just because the (valid) problems you listed above are true that somehow lifting this other (valid) barrier to switching isn't going to shake up the market and lead to increased competition?

        How often do you hear people saying, "My Sprint (Verizion/Cingular/etc.) service is a joke..." People want to switch. Now they'll start
  • I didn't switch. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ekephart (256467) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:08PM (#7620635) Homepage
    I am with Sprint. Before last month or so I planned to switch to ATT; the total cost and cost per minute would have been less. But then Sprint brought out the big guns and allowed nights to start at 7pm. They officially say that you have to upgrade (i.e. pay more per month) and sign a two year contract to get the new nights time if you are an existing customer. I said I wouldn't accept that and I wanted the new time schedules or they would receive a number portability request from ATT *today*. Since I've been there for 5 years now already, they were happy to accommodate me.
  • I don't have a cell phone myself, but I have a good friend who's phone had been broken for some time. She called the company asking for another one, and they told her it would be $80 (her warranty had just expired). As her contract was coming to an end in January, and number portability had just come into play, she told them that she couldn't afford $80 and she would switch to another carrier. That other carrier would give her a phone for free, since she would be a new customer. As soon as she threatene
  • Get the name right (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:10PM (#7620663)
    Make sure that the new carrier gets your name right with the old carrier, otherwise you won't exist. On top of that, cingular put the request into AT&T as a wireLINE to wireLESS port, rather than a wireLESS to wireLESS. I waited a week to get the new phone working, and I am not all that jazzed about the quality of service.
  • It made me stay... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rosewood (99925) <rosewood AT chat DOT ru> on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:10PM (#7620664) Homepage Journal
    I am sticking with T-Mobile since they are the only ones not putting additional fees on my bill for this. I was seriously considering Sprint but quite frankly, the only thing T-Mobile doesn't have is coverage in rural areas like Sprint does with analog roam.

    More minutes, cheaper, not nickle and dimed to death for features, and I don't have to pay just to play a stupid game on my cell phone.

    I was hoping T-Mobile would give me like a free month for renewing my contract but they said neh so I said "well poo poo on you you" but I am sticking with them.
  • as in "Number portability has been here for a few years", because frankly here it has. Yes, I've taken my numbers between carriers and can barely even remember what it was like to change numbers when you changed carriers.

    Well, good luck on that. It's a logical step and you too will one day forget about life in the stone age.
  • It is simply too early to tell. Most of us are locked into contracts and are simply waiting for them to expire. I say, give it about 6 months and check back, not days.
    I know as soon as my Verizon account contract dies, I am going to look real hard and see what is out there.
  • It gives me a leverage in dealing with my phone provider.

    Real life example:

    They phone spammed me (picked up by my sweetie, which annoys me to no end) trying to sell their incredible landline services at incredible prices, this despite the fact that all my numbers are marked as don't spam me. It's not a "do not call list" in the strict sense, but the directoriy entries are marked as don't call this number if you intend to sell shit. This is usually repected.

    I called to complain and of course the call cent

  • I'm stuck in a two-year contract, you insensitive clod.

    No really, I see the benefit of saving your number if you are seriously being screwed, but cell phone companies like to lock you in for at least a year. If there were month-to-month contracts more readily available this would be a great benefit, imo.
  • Switch my phone carriet just last weekend, actually. Much better, and much cheaper, service now, plus I have a nice new phone with features my old providor didn't support. And I still get to keep my very fun number. (Which I won't post here for obvious reasons. It is comprised of a rather interesting pattern of numbers, tho, very easy to remember, and I always get strange looks, like, "you're kidding," when I tell people my cell number.)
  • i've been trying to get myself on at&t wireless for the last 3 days. i'm currently a nextel customer in grand rapids, michigan. i'm trying to get myself into a spiffy new GSM phone from at&t wireless using my old nextel number. problem is, at&t says my old number isn't portable (despite nextel's insistance that it is). additionally, they say my nextel number is actually a detroit number (200 miles and a couple area codes away). not sure why it would matter, as both grand rapids and detroit a
    • by xyzzy (10685)
      I'm surprised it's not been noted here, but AT&T has apparently been having HORRIBLE computer problems with their back-end infrastructure for their GSM network. It's taking them days to provision phones, transfer numbers, etc. You probably got whacked by that.
  • by Strange Ranger (454494) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:14PM (#7620704)
    The law says that phone companies have to allow for number portability. The law does NOT say the phone companies have to make it easy for the consumer.

    For instance, when switching from AT&T to Verizon (while keeping your number the same) in my area you are forced to carry both your old phone and your new phone until May 2004. You place calls on your new phone but you still receive them on your old phone.

    Call me crazy but I'll wait a good year or so until it's at least a bit more customer friendly.

    The only thing keeping them from making it worse is that no one wants to get the worst press. So it appears they're going to drag their feet and make things as difficult as possible for as long as possible, and they're going to do it just up to the point that they can't get slammed any worse than anyone else in the industry. Like some inverse version of competition.

    Q-"How poorly can we comply?"
    A-"What are our competitors getting away with?"
  • Not done it yet, but I plan on moving my service from Sprint to Xingular since Sprint has no GSM support and Nokia gave me this very nice GSM phone at the last dev con I went to. Would be a shame to waste the phone for just dev work so I figure I'll hook myself up.
  • by baine (600693) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:15PM (#7620712) Homepage Journal
    He wanted to move from Qwest to ATT. Bought the ATT phone, ATT requested the number from Qwest, twice. Qwest denied the request both times, because the request specified a window of 3 hours, and Qwest requires a 24hr window to make the change.

    He now carries 2 cell phones: 1 (qwest) to receive calls, and 1 (ATT) to make calls. This has been over a week, and they still can't get it straightened out. He's even gone to the local news and been interviewed for a story, hoping the bad publicity will prompt some action. It seems like, for all of the warning the phone co's had, they still haven't worked out a lot of the systems necessary to make the switch.

    The funny thing is, the FCC only 'recommends' a timeframe for making a switch, but states right on their site that there is no required time limit. Talk about a loophole the cellphone companies can drive a truck full of cash through! My coworker could end up paying for two phones indeffinately.
  • It's a HASSLE!! (Score:5, Informative)

    by MoceanWorker (232487) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:16PM (#7620723) Homepage
    .. with AT&T Wireless, at least.

    The day after the portability law went into effect, I headed to Verizon to get the new LG VX6000 and to switch over from ATT Wireless to Verizon Wireless.

    Verizon seemed to do their part pretty quickly. Activation was quick, I was able to call out in 15 minutes. While I am able to call out on my new phone, I still (and remember, it's been a WEEK) cannot receive phone calls because ATT Wireless is taking their sweet ass time to finish their portion of the porting.

    I read the law for the portability, and I expected a major loophole. No timeline or period was stated in the law claiming the maximum amount of time a company is allowed to take with the process. I've called AT&T Wireless a numerous amount of times and they keep telling me the same thing.. "Systems are down". When asked for an explanation, the representative can't even elaborate on the reason because, well honestly, i don't think they have any clue what the hell is going.

    I don't know if anyone else is experiencing this (I live in metro New York), but this sure as hell is frustrating. After this post I am planning to call AT&T Wireless, again, and if they dare say "systems are down" I think I'll flip out.. something I rarely do.

    So yeah, don't expect everything to work right away, especially with AT&T Wireless.
    • by MoceanWorker (232487) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @04:13PM (#7621381) Homepage
      Well I called both VZW and ATT.. same bs.. except this time I demanded from ATT that they transfer me to their portability department (which seems to be the only way to get through).. the woman was nice.. told me AGAIN the "systems were down", but told me to call in 2-3 hours and gave me her direct extension..

      on a further note, if any ATT (or non-ATT) customers have any portability related questions and cannot get through.. try this number.. 1-800-241-0335 It's the "hidden" portability department number. The queue seems to be pretty fast (barely waited 30 seconds), so give that a shot
  • I have had verizon wireless for years and I've been waiting for the "Can you hear me now? Good." guy to come around my area so they could improve the coverage. Well with number porting allowed I switched to T-Mobile and now have much better coverage where I need it! I did borrow my sisters T-Mobile phone before so I knew I would get signal. The process was painless. I called verizon and made sure I wasn't under a contract anymore and then walked into a T-Mobile store. Took a bit of time for them to do
  • I have been with Omnipoint->Voicestream->T-Mobile for years. But I think the coverage is actually getting worse. Recently they told me that my hometown was not covered, despite my phone having worked there for years. So yes, I will switch, and there's nothing T-Mobile can do to fix it, short of improving coverage.

    I will not yet, however, for two reasons. First I want to make sure the bugs are out of the system. So far everybody's story is painless, which is good, but I want to make sure there ar

  • I figure that most of the 'switch to us' plans right now are designed for customers who are desperate to leave their current service, and will trap the desperate customers into bad, year-long contracts.

    I haven't found any plans that are very different then their old plans. I don't need 2000 minutes for $50 bucks a month, with 10 pages of tiny print discussing how I must give them my first born if I leave the contract. I just want inexpensive, reliable phone service.

    I'll wait a while for the plans to becom
  • I don't have a phone number; I can make outgoing calls from my room via a calling card, but I can't get incoming calls.

    If you want to contact me, send me an email.
  • by evilned (146392) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:22PM (#7620805) Homepage
    We switched last week. After doing some research about what we needed from our cel phone company, we went to T-Mobile. We dont do alot of travelling in the countryside around where we live, we only need coverage along interstates and major cities. GSM was important, beacuse we do alot of international travel, and T-Mobile also has a liberal policy of simunlocking their phones, so we can switch to prepaid sims while are out of the country. Switching from Sprint took about a day, AT&T was about three days. The call to switch was fine. The call to check status after it took more than 24 hours to port, sucked. 1 hour on hold, and no straight answers in sight. That being said, I'm glad its done, my wife and I are finally on the same company and family plan, with no number changes.
  • ...frankly, I wouldn't want to move my landline number to my cell phone. The LAST thing I want is all of those telemarketers calling my cell phone making me pay for their calls!
  • by lehyeong (569596) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:39PM (#7620985)
    I live in the SF Bay Area and switched from Cingular to Verizon on Monday. After two years of wretched coverage, there was no force on earth that could have made me stay with Cingular.

    I walked into the Verizon store, picked out a phone and a plan and within 2 hours was switched over. I didn't even have to bring in any documentation and I was surprised how painles entire processes was.

    It was the best buying experience I've had in a long time. I'd rather not have to pay the $1.75 per month for a service that should be standard, but given the choice between the fee and freedom to switch numbers versus no fee but no choice, go ahead and bill me.
  • Dock It (Score:4, Interesting)

    by james_orr (574634) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:40PM (#7620998) Homepage
    You could, of course, get one of those cell phone docking systems that tie into your home phone, then move your number to a cell line.

    That way you have the conveniance of using your home phones, but you're only paying for your cell phone.
  • by jspectre (102549) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @03:49PM (#7621078) Journal
    nope. number portability hasn't done a thing for me. my contract is up in a month and i'll be switching providers, t-mobile has very poor coverage in the area i moved to recently.

    getting a new number is something i actually want. this way i know who has the new number and no calls from people i'm hiding out from who knew the old one.
  • by asdfasdfasdfasdf (211581) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @04:02PM (#7621245)
    I was off-contract with T-Mobile, and had experienced many bandwith problems with them. I'm near an interstate interchange-- traveling calls fill the entire tower. I noticed an amazing deal on a treo 600 on amazon, [amazon.com] and decided to get it, knowing that I could port it to SprintPCS, where I have another cell phone, and much better service.

    I initiated the transfer on Wed, 11/26. I had heard rumblings of portability problems with the wrong information being entered into the system, so I made sure "customer care" specialist repeated all of the information back to me. They gave me an original "due date" of Saturday, 11/30 at Noon.

    Saturday rolled around and no transfer. I called back, and it turns out Sprint submitted the wrong address to the WLNP system. If the addresses don't match, it won't port. Nobody had called me in 3 days. To make matters worse, the address they submitted was my old address- 4 years and 3 addresses ago! It was my original address with Sprint, not even my current one they had on file!!

    To cut a long story short, I've called Sprint 5 times since then, still no port 7 days later, and each time I call, they give me the wrong address issue, even though I've corrected it 6 times.

    This most recent time, I waited 2 hours (on a landline) to speak to someone in the Sprint WLNP dept. They eventually got T-mobile on the line. Finally, they both agreed that it was the FCC-contracted third party that was the holdup, but that their system was in the middle of an "update" and was unaccessable for 2 hours. (In the middle of a business day?!!?)

    This system is not working. If these companies had spent the time and effort making this work instead of fighting it, and maybe tested it at least once, it would work better.

    But because there are so many parties involved, they figured they didn't have to, because there are 2 other people they can point the finger at.

    I've yet to hear from a single AT&T person online who's successfully ported.

    If you've having problems such as me, make sure to REPORT IT. [convio.net]

    Other resources I've been using, mostly to comisserate:

    Howard Forums [howardforums.com]
    Sprintusers.com [sprintusers.com]
    Number portability forum [numberportability.com]

    Wait until they get the kinks out-- the system should take but a few hours, not more than a week!
  • by cloudscout (104011) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @04:35PM (#7621612) Homepage
    On Saturday, November 22nd I went into a T-Mobile store and bought a new phone and activated service with a new phone number with an intent to port my old number over from AT&T Wireless Services on Monday the 24th.

    On Monday I called T-Mobile to begin the porting process. It took a little over an hour on the phone and at the end of the call they said it would take 3 to 24 hours before the change would be effective.

    24 hours later, nothing had happened yet. I called T-Mobile back and was told that the request had been rejected by AT&T because my name on the request didn't match my name in their system. I grabbed my AT&T bill and reconfirmed with T-Mobile that it had, in fact, been entered correctly the first time. They resubmitted the request and said to check back in another 5 hours if it hadn't gone through.

    5 hours later I called back to learn that AT&T rejected the request again saying that the ZIP code didn't match. We double-checked and it was exactly as it was listed on the AT&T bill. They said to check back again on Wednesday.

    On Wednesday, more of the same. We went through again to make sure that all of the information in the request was exactly as it was listed on my AT&T bill and resubmitted the request. They said that if it failed this time, I was stuck until Friday since they wouldn't be open on Thanksgiving.

    On Friday, nothing had changed. I called T-Mobile again and was told that AT&T was having serious computer problems and that all requests were being rejected. They said there was nothing else they could do right now and that there was no ETA. We were all at the mercy of AT&T and were simply stuck.

    I checked again on Saturday and Sunday and got the same answer both times.

    On Sunday I sent an eMail to AT&T Wireless Services telling them that there was no excuse for their incompetence given the fact that they've had over seven years since the original FCC mandate to prepare for this.

    On Monday I called T-Mobile again and talked to someone about the situation... specifically about my concerns regarding double-billing since I have an active T-Mobile account right now and I have to keep my AT&T service active until the conversion is complete or I forfeit my number. The T-Mobile rep was very sympathetic and said that she would take care of it by making sure I am not charged for my T-Mobile service until after the portability request is successfully completed.

    It is now Wednesday. 9 days since I submitted my port request. Three days since I sent an eMail to AT&T Customer Care. I still haven't heard anything from AT&T regarding the eMail I sent them on Sunday except for an automated form letter stating that they received my eMail and would respond as quickly as possible. I'm not holding my breath.

    I honestly believe that their problems may not be as severe as they claim and that this is, at least partially, an attempt by them to get their existing customers to "give up" on switching to another carrier. Many people who have requested number ports away from AT&T have done just that... after become so frustrated with the delays and excuses they've decided to just stick with AT&T rather than suffer through continued aggravation. If nothing else, AT&T is delaying the departure of dissatisfied customers, forcing them to continue paying for poor quality service until the alleged computer problems are corrected. In fact, a number of customers have reported in various Internet message boards (including AT&T's own support forums) incidents where they have called in to simply cancel their service and were told by the AT&T rep that they couldn't do it at that time because the system was down and that they would need to call back later.

    I, personally, intend to continue my quest to move my number to T-Mobile if for no other reason than to make it clear to AT&T that they're not just losing a customer, they're losing a customer to one of their competitors. Number portab
  • by Szynaka (65273) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @04:44PM (#7621715)
    We do a lot of land line number porting at work to get local sales numbers and its my job to make sure that they all work. Let me tell you not all carriers have the same diligence with updating their call routing. And since most of the phone routing is done on the call's originating side there are lots of places where number ports can go wrong.

    After you get your number ported to a new carrier test it from every carrier you can get your hands on. If you don't mind the one time costs do some 10-10 dial arounds to test some LD carriers. If you have any small telcos in your area be sure to test from them. Typically the smaller the telco the worse the porting results. (but many times they are the easiest convince to make a fix) And be sure to test the number by originating a call from your old provider. Providers are notorious for not pulling the routing for the ported number and then don't forward the call.

    If you do end up getting a problem with reaching your number after the port bitch up a storm to your new carrier. They do have the power and the ability to get in touch with the companies that are screwing things up and they can get these things fixed. Don't let them tell you otherwise. It will probably take 2 days to a week to get the problem fixed but make no mistake they can get it fixed for you.

    After saying all this I want to say that number portability for the most part is great. After all the initial hurdles are out of the way we almost never have a problem with the number ever again.
  • by sjanes71 (2217) <simon.janes@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @04:51PM (#7621805)
    And I haven't even changed my serivce yet. I got a letter yesterday saying my monthly rate from T-Mobile was now $10 cheaper. More competition is driving prices down more. Now I just need a plan that costs $20/mo instead of $49/mo.
  • by Belgand (14099) <belgand AT planetfortress DOT com> on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @04:55PM (#7621846) Homepage
    While number portability may be a good thing on the surface I can't see switching unless the service is absolutely terrible at the present. Since phones are not interoperable between carriers I end up getting stuck with an expensive new paperweight while having to pay to get a new phone. Contracts may be bad, but being locked into a provider due to hardware is far worse. We wouldn't tolerate this with computers or land-line phones, why are cellular consumers willing to put up with it?

    If real portability existed it would help not only the consumer by allowing them to actually change what company they want, but would allow a greater choice of phones. Instead of the half-dozen that your carrier supports you'd have access to all of the phones on the market. A move that would spur the development of phones further and help to weed out the bad designs even more.

    Don't get me wrong, number portability is a nice step, but hardware portability will be the big one.
  • The UK experience (Score:3, Informative)

    by MeerCat (5914) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @06:10PM (#7622642) Homepage
    So in the UK we've had number portability for a few years, and it's been fine for me. I rang my provider last month and simply asked for a PAC code (the code that lets you move your number to a different provider) - I didn't threaten to cancel, or query a bill, I just asked for a PAC code....

    I instantly got some smooth bloke asking "is there a problem sir", who (now that he's been prompted) took the time to look at my 5 years of usage and had the authority to offer me
    • Free phone upgrade up to 300 quid ($500)
    • Change my tariff to a custom package to fit my recent history of call + SMS usage
    • Discount the monthly fee for that tariff by 60%
    So, I was paying to much before (aren't we all), but they didn't worry too much as they knew the number was valuable to me, now I don't have to get shirty or threaten to close my account, I just ask for a PAC code and I have some leverage...

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