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Verizon Drops Opposition To Cell-Number Portability 308

EyesWideOpen writes "Verizon has announced (NYTimes - free registration required) that it would drop its opposition to the proposed F.C.C plan that would allow callers to keep their wireless phone numbers when they switch carriers. Verizon, the nation's largest mobile phone company, was seen as 'the standard-bearer of the opposition against wireless number portability' but has shifted it's position citing the recent court ruling as the reason for doing so. The F.C.C has set a deadline of November 24 for it's rules to take effect. Other mobile phone companies such as Cingular Wireless and AT&T Wireless are still expected to appeal the court ruling. Several previous stories on number portability here(1), here(2), here(3), here(4), and here(5)."
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Verizon Drops Opposition To Cell-Number Portability

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  • by frieked ( 187664 ) * on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:57AM (#6293776) Homepage Journal
    Finally... I'm so sick of having to either change my phone number or pay higher rates every year when my contract runs up. Now when there's a better calling plan for me I can take my phone number with me so I don't have to give a new number out to 700 different people :D

    Maybe now instead of holding our phone numbers hostage, the phone companies will actually have to offer better plans to keep our business. Mmmmm more minutes for less money = more money for beer... Mmmmm beer.
    • by svallarian ( 43156 ) <(svallarian) (at) (> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:06AM (#6293889)
      No doubt!

      Seems like the contracts get worse each and each year. I've been with my provider (Cellular South) for about 5 years, and am still under a contract that gives:
      100 "anytime" min a month
      free incoming calls
      unlimited nights and weekends (at 7pm - not 9pm)
      for 29.95

      Now, don't get me wrong, Celluar South's billing is the worst i've ever seen, I haven't even received a bill in the last 3 years (DON'T sign up for their online billing--it doesn't really exist and then they can't get you back to paper-bill land), but as long as I can remember to use their convoluted automated credit card payment, it's really not a problem.
    • This will also be huge for people who either move or change jobs, thus potentially changing the coverage that they normally get. When I switched jobs from the east side to the west side of Indianapolis, my coverage changed for the worse - I can't wait for the opportunity to change carriers...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:20AM (#6294022)
      the real reason is that the FCC said number portability works both ways and you can move your home phone number to your cell phone. This will be huge fro the cell compaines in competing with LECs.
    • by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:32AM (#6294140) Journal
      Finally... I'm so sick of having to either change my phone number or pay higher rates every year when my contract runs up.

      What about the *hardware*? It would be nice if the gov't dropped the campaign donations in favor of legislation requiring compatible hardware on all networks. If I change my carrier, then I need to buy a new phone. That isn't a big deal if you've got entry-level hardware but some of these more elaborate gadjets pretty much lock you into the carrier unless you are willing to eat the cost of buying a comparable replacement.

      Right now, I just wish that the cellular carriers would provide hardware to plug into my house POTS wiring. I subscribed to Ameritech/SBC for only two months before I realized that their customer inservice was not going to work for me. This was prior to the monopoly on local phone carriers. At the time, it made sense to swap to cellular and I've never had a problem but it would be nice to have a regular phone system at home. It would be nice if I could just put my cell phone on a docking station/charger when I came home and calls could ring into the home system.

      I'm just glad to be without SBC/Ameritech. I've never hated a business with such passion.
      • by kb7oeb ( 543726 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:06PM (#6294419)
        Right now, I just wish that the cellular carriers would provide hardware to plug into my house POTS wiring
        Have a look at Cell Socket []
      • by EisPick ( 29965 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:17PM (#6294506)
        It would be nice if the gov't dropped the campaign donations in favor of legislation requiring compatible hardware on all networks.

        No it wouldn't, comrade.

        If we had to wait for government approvals for technological changes, we'd all still be using AMPS.

        One of those old Motorola bricks would solve your universal compatibility problems, after all.
      • Insightful? How about karma-whoring non-sense!

        What about the *hardware*? It would be nice if the gov't dropped the campaign donations in favor of legislation requiring compatible hardware on all networks.

        Well, many of these different providers use different wireless architecture/networks (CDMA, TDMA, GSM, etc.) making incompatibly impossibly unless you want to purchase 3-mode and 4-mode phones. Which would make them expensive, defeating the whole purpose of saving cost.

        Now, there are many providers

      • by anonymous loser ( 58627 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:29PM (#6294604)
        If you have an expensive phone, more than likely it is a tri-mode phone meaning it is already compatible with pretty much every network in the US, and many overseas networks as well. By law your provider has to tell you how to unlock your phone to use it with another provider. Although they deliberately make it a bit difficult, it's not too hard to get the appropriate information using google.

      • by RzUpAnmsCwrds ( 262647 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @01:18PM (#6294991)
        Such legislation would be insanely stupid. Imagine the billions of dollars it would cost Verizon or Sprint to convert their netwoek to GSM. It's not the government's job to force compatibility between networks. That's the purpose of a standards body.

        As a sidenote, I am typing this on a GSM/GPRS device in the middle of the New Mexico desert (6 miles from the tiny town of Chimayo). And, yes, there is GPRS service here. My device even works on Cingular's and AT&T's GPRS/GSM network. Now, if it weren't SIM locked I could even switch to either of those carriers.

        Oh well. I pay $40 for 200 whenever, 1000 weekend minutes. I get unlimited SMS and unlimited GPRS data, no roaming charges anywhere in a nation of 300 million people that's 3x larger than Western Europe, and no long distance charges in a similar area. Yes, I have to pay for incoming calls, but it's not really a big deal.
    • I can take my phone number with me so I don't have to give a new number out to 700 different people

      When are they going to start doing this for POTS lines? Everytime I move from one side of Dallas to the other, my phone number changes!

    • Free is such a strong word. Don't you think you'll be paying an extra $30/month so you can keep your number? Heck, my local company charges me to keep my number from my last apartment, and I can see the place from where I live now. I guarantee this will be just like ATM fees ... if it's a benefit to you, they'll charge you, regardless if it costs them anything, or even if it saves them money.
  • by bytes256 ( 519140 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:58AM (#6293782)
    Re-write the cell-phone numbers in Java...dial once, talk anywhere or something like that, isn't that why they're putting Java on all the phones?
  • by ( 410908 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:58AM (#6293785) Journal
  • article text (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    June 25, 2003
    Verizon Quits Fight on Rule for Cellphone Numbers

    Verizon Wireless said yesterday that it would drop its opposition to a government plan to allow callers to keep their wireless phone numbers when they switch carriers. The about-face by Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest mobile phone company, probably means that some other mobile phone operators will have little choice but to yield to the arrangement.

    Verizon, which has led a protracted, industrywide effort to prevent the Fede
  • It's obviously a move to gain consumer support and get customers to switch. Now that they've got their opposition fighting the FCC, they can say: "Look, we're the biggest PROPONENTS of cell number portability, and our competition is still fighting it. So switch to us!"

    I'm sick to death cell carriers and their sleaziness -- it's like the long distance carrier battles of the 90s all over again. You guys offer a commodity product, compete on price because nothing else differentiates you anymore.
    • by _PimpDaddy7_ ( 415866 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:05AM (#6293879)
      Not necessarily.

      Nextel offers the two way walkie talkie feature. Are other providers going to implement this? Some people need it, others don't.

      Also, not all providers have the best coverage. Here in Boston, Sprint's coverage drops easily. Verizon easily dominates the coverage in this area.

      Those are 2 items that can differentiate what provider you go with. I'm sure there's a few others.

      It's not a commodity, yet.
      • Here in Boston, Sprint's coverage drops easily. Verizon easily dominates the coverage in this area.

        Which Boston do you live in?
      • LOL @ Nextel (Score:5, Informative)

        by appleLaserWriter ( 91994 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:19AM (#6294001)
        Nextel is a great example of marketing a technically inferior product as superior. And they seem to be successful at it.

        The Push To Talk function takes a perfectly good full-duplex cell phone and turns it into a half-duplex walkie-talkie. They even give you a thicker and heavier phone to keep up the illusion!

        Nextel fans like to point out that PTT is built into the IDEN network, and other carriers can never offer such a feature. TMobile, however, offers unlimited mobile to mobile calling for $10. You get full duplex all the way with TMobile.
        • The Push-To-Talk feature of Nextel's service has never really attracted the average user, but it's been a huge selling point for business customers. Think of construction sites or warehouses where you might use a walkie-talkie, and replace it with an inexpensive system that lets you two-way with anyone regarless of their location..

          AND, lets you choose one-to-one communication, or one-to-many. You can use the same device to call Joe that you use to talk amongst a group of five people, totally ad-hoc.
    • by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:18AM (#6293992) Homepage Journal
      It's obviously a move to gain consumer support and get customers to switch.

      They probably also believe that they weren't going to get their way and therefore best put their money towards getting the infrastructure in place by the deadline. Also, they probably realised that by making it easier for customers to switch, then with a good marketing campaign, people probably will.

      Since cell phone number are virtual, relative to the phone, the real work is actually on the land based switches. Then again given that the infrastructure had to be in place to allow the calls to be routed to the cell phone networks, then the ability to switch phone numbers is only at maximum a firmware update away.
  • This is good (Score:4, Interesting)

    by confusednoise ( 596236 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:00AM (#6293818)
    This is good news for the consumer. I've held off switching carriers precisely because I would be forced to get a new number - losing the one everyone's used to reaching me at. Yeah, yeah, I could try to update people, but yer always gonna miss someone. Hopefully this will encourage the carriers to improve their service to stay competitive rather than relying on customers who are locked in.
  • Vonage + Cellular (Score:4, Interesting)

    by caffeinex36 ( 608768 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:00AM (#6293819)
    What my vonage service needs to do is offer a portability type service, where I can get VoiP mobile....having 1 number for both home and cell, while still taking advantage of VoiP and my 25.99 flat rate fee. My cel phone is almost DOUBLE what my vonage at home bill is :(

    • I think Vonage needs to get in bed with Cisco just a little more and bring out one of the "voip" phones.

      Cisco has a phone that will jump onto a wireless network and call home to momma. Now as the wireless networks crop up everywhere it would make sence to have a cell phone that would scan for open wireless networks, jump on call Vonage via IP and make the call happen. If that is not around jump on the Cell Tower your under. If you at home jump on your regular Vonage service or your wifi at the house.

      It ju
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:02AM (#6293838)
  • by Creepy ( 93888 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:05AM (#6293877) Journal
    read the very bottom of this:

    Verizon []

    apparently there is still a bill in congress that may delay the number change date.
  • by Yavi ( 538405 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:07AM (#6293896)
    As an employee of Cingular wireless, I can say that we're preparing our backend system to be able to do this. I believe all of the systems are in place, but that they're just testing the system. This could definatly spur competition in the cellular industry, and my completely unbiased (yeah, right) opinion tells me it will work to our advantage by driving more customers to us.
    • and my completely unbiased (yeah, right) opinion tells me it will work to our advantage by driving more customers to us.
      I got a new phone almost exactly a year ago, so my service commitment expires any day. If it weren't for having to change my phone number, I'd drop Cingular in a second. I know all the carriers are in the business of dicking customers out of their money, but cingular's rates, service (coverage, etc) and customer service are astoundingly bad.
      Hopefully I can switch carriers on Nov 25th...
  • by HitSkyn ( 679468 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:07AM (#6293900)
    it should be Here(0),Here(1),Here(2),Here(3),Here(4)
  • Does it affect us? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pVoid ( 607584 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:09AM (#6293913)
    I'm a phone user stuck with my Telus (canadian) phone company. I've had a phone number for 5 years now, and I really don't want to switch it. In the meantime though, Telus has got some of the crapiest packages out there... I'm being robbed on a monthly basis.

    I've been stuck in it for a few months now, and frankly, I don't see anything happening anytime soon after this ruling. It's going to take at least a whole year!

    </rantish post>

  • by WIAKywbfatw ( 307557 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:14AM (#6293948) Journal
    1. You can't port your number between providers.

    Elsewhere, you can port your numbers in days with just a couple of phone calls.

    2. You have to ditch your handset if you do switch providers.

    In the rest of the world, phones have SIM cards (small smart cards). To change provider all you have to do is get a new SIM card, which costs around $7-15, depending on the provider that you're switching to.

    3. You have to pay for the priviledge of being contacted.

    Elsewhere, Caller Party Pays (CPP) is standard. If your boss calls you and jabbers on for an hour why should you foot the bill?

    4. Numbers are geographically fixed.

    Elsewhere, mobile numbers are non-geographic, which means that if you have to move from one end of the country to another, your mobile number doesn't have to change. Indeed, in most countries you can tell if you're calling a mobile number because it will have a unique, non-geographical area code - eg, in the UK all mobile numbers begin with 07xxx.

    Seriously, mobile telephony seems to be one area where the US is playing catch-up.

    • Not playing catch up.
      They're playing "run from the dinosaur", since they're still in Mobile Telecommunications stone age.

    • 1) true, but that is going to change. Its all about lockin, and the FCC has said thats bad. So our government is stepping in to make it right.

      2)I do not have a cell phone anymore, so things may have changed. When I did have a cell phone, they just replaced a chip when I switched providers.

      3)Because the callers may not know there being charged. here is to numbers (324)543-0937 and (657)987-3275 which one is the cell number?

      4)My coworker ho recently moved from the other coast still use there same service,
      • 1. On behalf of the rest of us, I'd like to welcome US mobile operators and their customers to the 21st century.

        2. That's only true for some handsets. I don't have a breakdown of the numbers but too many US mobiles are locked into one operator.

        A quick poll I took amongst some US friends found that most of them couldn't swap providers without swapping handsets. You'd have to look very, very hard to find someone here in the UK that you could say that about.

        3. See the comment I made in point 4 of my origina
        • 2. It's not a fundamental problem with a system. For example, when sprint came in with their digital system and stopped using analog they kinda broke the standard, and were providing better service. It's just when you switched to their service you had to have a phone that supported their protocol.

          4. Cingular provides nationwide access as well as service in Canada. That's more land than Europe. I can't think of any of the other big services where plans aren't at least nationwide.
          • 2. It's a problem if you can't wake up one morning and say "screw x, I'm gonna switch to y" without having to go out and spend a pile of cash buying a brand new handset and thus get screwed yourself.

            4. One provider? That's not exactly a lot of choice is it? What happens if it's that one provider that you don't want to do business with? Or when they hike their prices on you? The words "shit", "creek" and "paddle" spring to mind.
    • Well, considering that I have a "national" plan on my cell phone, I don't really need to change my phone number if I move, every call to or from my phone is a local call as long as I am within the USA. I spent more than half of this year in Boston and Philadelphia, while retaining my NJ-area-code number.

      As for the rest of your comments. I agree wholeheartedly.
    • In the rest of the world, phones have SIM cards (small smart cards). To change provider all you have to do is get a new SIM card, which costs around $7-15, depending on the provider that you're switching to.

      Some, but by no means all, phones here have SIM cards. And you *can* use them to switch providers, it's just that most providers give you a free or very very cheap phone when you sign up for a new service agreement, and it's often got newer technology/features/styles than the old phone you were previo
    • " will have a unique, non-geographical area code - eg, in the UK all mobile numbers begin with 07xxx."
      Ok, I must have missed something here. If it's non-geographical, but all UK numbers are assigned Well shit, _my_ brain is fried.
      • If you have a mobile phone in the UK, its number will begin with 07xxx. As only mobile numbers begin with 07xxx, anyone calling you knows before they dial that it's your mobile that they are calling you on.

        Your mobile number will begin 07xxx irrespective of the area code of the city that you live in - whether I live in London (area code 020), Liverpool (0161) or elsewhere, my mobile number will start 07xxx.

        I thought my orignal post made that clear but, for those of you with fried brains, this is the "for
    • 4. Numbers are geographically fixed.
      eg, in the UK all mobile numbers begin with 07xxx

      From the Cia World Fact Book: []

      United Kingdom: slightly smaller than Oregon

      We are talking about much smaller areas here. The US is such a big country, with a lot of landmass, it is a lot harder to manage.

      Billing: Another thing to think about in the number portability, is billing. For instance, I get my phone in NY, then swith providers when I move to CA and port my number. So know when I dial someplace in
    • In response to number 2, one of the biggest problems with doing that in the US is the multiple networks for cell phones, well do have some GSM providers, but unlike Europe that's not all there is, we also do PCS and CDMS and TDMA.

      PCS is proprietary so there's no switching phones from or to that service.

      I had GSM service with Voicestream and now AT&T is rolling out/has rolled out GSM service so I should have been able to switch to them if I still had a cell phone by simply swapping my SIM card.

      And ana
    • It's not so bright in Europe either:

      re 1: in the Czech Republic, for instance, we can't transfer our number to a different provider (I haven't even heard of any plans in this regard)

      re 4: in Europe, numbers are geographically fixed on the level of the countries, which matters if you're moving inside the EU

    • Yet another euro trying to make up for his inferiority complex.

      PacBell had SIM cards on their phones. It just didn't catch on and they abandoned it.

      Local calls are free in the US. Your cellphone appears just as if it were a local phone. People typically buy cellphones so THEY are reachable when THEY want to be - not because they want other people to be able to reach them when those OTHER PEOPLE want to.

      And here in the US if your boss calls you and yacks on you tell him to buzz off because it's a cellphon
    • > 1. You can't port your number between providers. This is true, and is a direct result of the FCC allowing different technologies to compete and develop on their own. It's easy to say cell infrastructure would be more advanced (and certainly more cohesive) here if the FCC had come up with a standard to use in the first place. However, by allowing TDMA, CDMA, GSM to compete allowed us (and you guys) to help figure out which one worked best. It also led to other advances, such as Qualcomm's use of ort
    • Thanks for numbering, it makes replying easier:

      1: That's what this ruling is about. We'd have this feature long ago if the providers hadn't fought it so much (this regulation has been on the table for nearly 10 years)

      2: Not true. Many phones here are GSM, in fact there are three major GSM providers here (AT&T, Cingular, and T-Mobile). Some phones are SIM locked, but you can usually harass customer support into unlocking your phone. The big reason that nobody cares over here is that most providers will
  • The article suggests that Verizon is making this 180 degree turn because they saw that portability was on track to win and didn't want to be seen like a sore loser. While I would love to think that a large corporation would stop fighting for something selfish when they recognized that they would most likely lose, I've had few experiences of this nature.

    Which leads me to question: Is Verizon just recognizing the situation was hopeless and acting responsibly/accordingly, or are they disarming their enemies only to lobby at the last minute for something (exhorbitant fees, special restrictions) and getting it passed while everyone else is fumbling? Or are they using their switch to gain some advantage over their wireless competitors(2. ??? 3. Profit)?

  • It's obvious that the anti-portability crowd all have their roots as monopolistic phone companies. Their out look is always pessimistic, that every change will result in customers leaving.

    They should be looking at these changes as OPPORTUNITIES to GAIN market share, not as changes that will eat their lunch. If they don't change their outlook they will be crushed by competitors.
  • Irony. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mrsam ( 12205 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:22AM (#6294031) Homepage
    This is really a surprise. I have no idea what Verizon is thinking. At least around here Verizon has, in my opinion, the worst service available (and, I'm qualified to make that assessment by the virtue of knowing them back when they called themselves Bell Atlantic/NYNEX mobile), and you'd expect them to oppose anything that would make it easier for their captive customers to flee to the dozens of available competitors.

    First of all, they charge for their phones. AT&T, Sprint, and others give you a free phone with a service contract. Then, their phones are crap. Twice did my phone crap out after the warranty period expired. Each time they made me pay for a replacement phone, and locked me into another contract. On two other occasions the phone blew up while it was still under warranty. Each time, I had to wait two weeks to get the phone back, and neither time would they give me a loaner, so I was without service all that time.

    Finally, last year I told them to screw off. Yes, I had to get a new number, oh well. My current contract expires in October, and I'm really looking forward to the Nov 24 date.

    Just for laughs, last year I went into a local Verizon dealer. He tried to sell me a phone for sixty bucks, and a two-year contract. I told him the AT&T guy across the street is giving out free phones, with a one-year contract. The Verizon guy tried to tell me that you get what you're paying for. I just laughed, and went across the street.

    I don't really know what Verizon is thinking. Maybe they think that their marketing can overcome their shitty service.

    • It depends on how you use your cellphone.

      If you live in the city or the burbs and never leave, use Sprint or T-Mobile. They are cheap with decent service, provided you don't leave the city or stray 2-3 miles from the interstate. Verizon works everywhere.

      If you travel often or frequent rural areas, go with Verizon. With Verizon, you are paying for coverage in all sorts of remote locations.
  • by RobertB-DC ( 622190 ) * on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:22AM (#6294034) Homepage Journal
    I've been reasonably happy with Verizon -- I started out with PrimeCo (Dallas), and was expecting the worst when the former GTE took over (having had bad technical experiences with GTE as a local telco).

    I was pretty peeved last year, though. I wanted to upgrade my wife's phone to a BREW-enabled handset (for Christmas), but my contract wasn't close enough to expiration. I spent quite a while talking to customer service reps and told them that as soon as Number Portability came in November 2003, I was outta there.

    The rep's response was, "What's 'Number Portability'?"

    I suspect that this issue is way below Jo(e) Consumer's radar screen... especially if the carriers' own reps don't yet have a scripted answer to the concept. But that won't last long! By making a U-Turn on the portability issue, Verizon is now poised to spend the next five months "educating" the consumer about their upcoming portability rights... regardless of whether their competitors are on board.

    Imagine the buzz to be generated by a full-page ad from Verizon: Cingular, Sprint, and AT&T want to lock you in. Verizon is fighting to set you free. For once, good business sense happens to be on the right side of the debate.

    By the way, I'm over my tiff with Verizon. I ended up upgrading (with a a cheapie phone) when the contract expired, so I'm with 'em another couple of years, come hell or high water.
  • by pair-a-noyd ( 594371 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:24AM (#6294061)
    Keeping your cell phone when switching service!
    I have a drawer full of old cell phones that I paid THOUSANDS of dollars for over the years. Around here cell companies pop up and fold up just as quick. NONE of the local companies here have decent service or rates.
    So people here, me included switch service trying to go with the best one.

    "We're sorry, you can't use *their* phone with out service, you'll have to buy a NEW phone from *us* to use with our service."

    I would really like to see a stop put to this sort of thing too. And when company X packs up and leaves town you can't sell your old phone to anyone for use with any other company.

    That's the REAL pisser about switching service!

  • There are several articles covering this story. Verizon states that it would cost around $0.15 per month to allow for Local Number Portability (LNP). Other carriers seem, according to the stories, to charge $1.50 - $2.00 per month for it.

    Verizon now things the cost is low enough that the carriers should just absorb it. How much are you willing to pay for this ability?

    Me, I think it should not be a monthly additional fee.
    • It should not be a cost borne by the consumer, but a marketing cost borne by the carrier - if they want to be able to steal other carrier's customers, then supporting mobile number portability is a pretty small price to pay. They systems are already in use around the world, so it is not like they will have to re-invent the wheel and spend billions developing new systems.
      Here in Australia we have had MNP (mobile number portability) for about 18 months now and it works relatively well. I work in sales for a l
  • If we're not going to get out cheap-ish VOIP equipment, why not use some sort of a Phone DNS.

    Have a number 1-800-DNS-HOME or something and have an ID. No matter what new carrier you have, you jsut call up and goto administrator on your acct and change the phone pointer.

    Yeah, it'll cost, but Verizon, Cingular, et al, wont complain as they cant.
  • by Isaac-Lew ( 623 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:32AM (#6294135)
    What I would like to see are shorter contract terms. WHY should I be locked into a 1 or 2 year contract with an early termination fee? You don't see that on just about any other consumer service (including land-line phones). As a matter of fact, I remember reading somewhere that they *can't* legally do that (after a certain amount of time), anyone care to enlighten me?
    • I have a month to month contrat with sprint i got, 4-5 years ago. I believe its still available, but the tend to bury it under all the contract stuff, and you baicaly wind up paying 10 bucks more. ALso, they have commercial/busisness plans that are month to month.
    • What I would like to see are shorter contract terms. WHY should I be locked into a 1 or 2 year contract with an early termination fee?

      It cost hundreds of dollars for a cell phone company to add a new customer. That includes advertising and the free cell phone you got with that contract. You don't seriously think AT&T Wireless just absorbs the cost of that $200 cell phone, do you?

      Of course, if you don't want to sign a 1-2 year contract, you don't have to. You'll just have to buy your own phone.
  • by limekiller4 ( 451497 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:34AM (#6294153) Homepage
    From the article []:
    "The case was lost in court and now it's time to get on with providing customers with what we believe they want." - Dennis Strigl, the president and chief executive of Verizon Wireless

    It's nice to see Verizon openly admit that thier first priority is themselves, not their customers.
  • Why is this a right? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by invenustus ( 56481 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:43AM (#6294224)
    I'm really confused about this, because I don't quite understand how phone numbers are bought and sold by companies.

    Say I get broadband at home from Bob's Broadband. I get a static IP address of Later on I decide I can get a better price from Joe's Broadband. I switch, and they give me the IP address This is unfair! Why can't I keep my IP address?!

    Anyone who can tell a router from a hole in the ground knows the answer to this one - Bob's Broadband owns the subset of IP addresses in which is located. If I were to keep my IP address and sign up with Joe's Broadband, there would be a lot of awkward router configuration going on at both ISP's.

    Likewise, if a cellular provider buys a block of phone numbers, can they have them taken away without any compensation? I know my cellular contract doesn't say I own the number, it just says I get to use it. Can somebody fill me in?
    • by data1 ( 23016 )
      I dont think its a right but number portability is that much more important to people than an IP address. With IPs you can alter your your DNS and map your hostname to whatever new IP you have. I don't recall an alias directory for names and cell phone numbers anywhere - do you?
    • by onree ( 680951 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:21PM (#6294542)
      In the US, telephone numbers are not purchased; instead, they're maintained and distributed by specific authorities (e.g. the North American Numbering Plan Administrator [NANPA] or the Pooling Administrator). Carriers can request new blocks of numbers once they meet certain regulatory thresholds (e.g. xx% of their existing number inventory is utilized); once they receive these new numbers, the carrier can assign the numbers however it likes. The TNs can't be taken away as far as I know unless the carrier has a number inventory in excess of what they actually need, in which case the carrier elects which number ranges to return to NANPA or similar authority. So once a number range is received and as long as it is used by a sufficient number of customers, for all intents and purposes it will continue to belong to the carrier and can't be taken away.
    • I think the point is that if there is number portability then you wouldn't need to carve up the numbers between the providers at all- the nth person requesting a number just gets assigned the first free number.
    • Disclaimer: IANATCE (I am not a telco employee)

      But... I think that it used to be that phone numbers were dished out in units of 10,000. You'd get an entire exchange at once (xxx.yyy.0000->9999).

      However, with cel systems coming in and such, there was suddenly a great demand for new exchanges. And they started to run out. Four cel phone carriers in an area code, now you need (at least) four new exchanges.

      So instead, somebody decided that they wouldn't give out an entire exchange at once. Just a few hund
  • I wonder if Canadian carriers will adopt a similar policy in the near future?

    I hate having to stick with one carrier, their shitty plans and their crummy phones because I don't want to change phone numbers.

    I'd also like to see companies let you bring over your old phone from a different carrier.

    Down with restrictions!
  • by Rai ( 524476 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:56AM (#6294334) Homepage
    Carrier's already have problems with their respective services and now everyone expects this to just work perfectly because the FCC says so.

    I wouldn't port my number unless absolutely necessary. I think people will have a lot less trouble if they just cut their losses and go with a new number. Keep the old number's voice mail in service for a month or so and leave the new number as the message.
  • by andy1307 ( 656570 ) *
    Verizon, the nation's largest mobile phone company, was seen as 'the standard-bearer of the opposition against wireless number portability'

    Translation: Verizon has the most money to spend on lawyers and lobbyists.

  • by MORTAR_COMBAT! ( 589963 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @12:13PM (#6294474)
    What's really the difference here between telling the cell phone companies "screw your prefix-based infrastructures, be able to accept anyone's phone numbers on your system" and telling ISPs "screw your silly notions of IP address blocks, be able to accept anyone's IP address on your system".

    I have a block of static IPs from my ISP. If I change ISPs, according to the logical conclusion of this ruling, I should be able to keep my block of IP addresses.

    Doesn't that raise any alarm bells? Doesn't that just sound preposterous, insane?

    "Oh," you say. "But we have DNS! You just point your DNS to your new IP addresses (and reconfigure all your machines, etc). There is no DNS for phone numbers! So there!"

    Uh... we _do_ have DNS for phone numbers. It's called "The Telephone Book", also known as "Directory Assistance" or "411", etc. Maybe we should be working on a better way to dial people up based on unchanging things like their names, kept and distributed much in the same way as DNS. You register your name with the phone company as your registrar and they assign you a phone number out of the block of phone numbers they have available. Anyone dialing "MORTAR COMBAT 123" would first hit a global registry (if the local registry didn't have a cache hit) saying that "Oh, Verizon is the registrar for "MORTAR COMBAT 123" at this time, and the request hits Verizon's registry which 'dials' the current physical phone number. Perhaps you pay a fee to the global registrar (through your local registrar) for this registration service.

    If you change telephone providers, you should change phone numbers because provider infrastructure is set up based on rules of blocks of numbers. Following this path of 'take your number with you' leads into a nasty den of big, big trouble for IP addresses and ISPs because the law will make no distinction based on "technical difficulties" which it doesn't understand.

    A phone number isn't some ethereal label -- it is a formatted number in which prefixes mean something significant, and upon which billions of dollars of infrastructure has been built.
    • ... what about the impact such a precedent sets for e-mail addresses? Let's say that I was using the e-mail address '' because I had Earthlink as an ISP. But I want to change to MSN as an ISP but keep my e-mail address. Imagine the problems it would cause if the government required both that Earthlink must allow me to take my e-mail address with me, and that MSN must now host that e-mail address?
    • IP addresses and phone numbers don't really map in the way you are trying to imply. For one thing, if you actually have an IP block assigned to you, it can be advertised out of whatever ISP you wish. We do this all the time with co-lo customers, they bring their own servers and IP blocks to our data centers, and we advertise the routes appropriately so that the packets know which way to go.

      In terms of DNS and phone books... Phone books are not the same as DNS, you can (theoretically) always ask for the
    • We do have DNS for phone numbers. The number you dial is the "directory number". The actual point of connection is something else. There's a distributed database, run over Signalling System 7, to pass that information around. Verisign runs most of that database. []

      Verisign operates a one-stop service for number portability. It's straightforward - they control the number database. You don't get a choice of registrars.

      One less-known feature of this approach is that it's used for wiretapping. By messin

  • by Jade E. 2 ( 313290 ) <slashdot.perlstorm@net> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @09:43PM (#6299478) Homepage
    I've been wondering for a while what Verizon was thinking. While I can't vouch for the rest of the country (although consumer reports keeps ranking Verizon #1), around my area (Tucson, AZ) Verizon's coverage blows away every other carrier. Plus, having once sold both Verizon and Sprint phones at RadioShack, and having had several other companies in previous years, Verizon's customer service is by far the best I've ever dealt with. I've been hoping they wouldn't delay (again) the portability ruling because I want to switch *to* Verizon when it takes effect.

    But now, I (maybe) see what they've been doing.

    1. Wait for FCC to create new regulation (Which we'll call X) that will cost a lot of money to implement.
    2. Fight tooth and nail to delay X. Become the leading anti-X company in the country.
    3. Use the extra time to implement X as cheaply as possible, while your competitors put it off.
    4. When you've finished your implementation of X, suddenly drop your opposition, taking the wind out of the entire anti-X movement.
    5. (Possibly?) Start pushing X as a major reason to switch from your competition to you. Laugh as your competitors scramble to implement it.
    6. ??
    7. Profit!

    Does that sound about right?

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!