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Wireless Number Portability

Your wireless and landline number can follow you from landline to wireless or the reverse, or from one cellular carrier to another. These are tips to make the transition smoother for you. Our reports are from The Wireless Industry, and The FCC.

Not all numbers are portable; it primarily depends on geography and where the number was originally connected. Your wireless representative can automatically tell you whether a phone number is portable according to Federal Communications Commission guidelines.

Process Time:
Porting a phone number involves two carriers. Although your wireless carrier is only able to control half of the porting process, they will work with the other carriers to port numbers within 24-hours. As carriers get used to this new, complex national process, we expect to complete a majority of wireless-to-wireless single "port" requests within three hours. Wireline-to-wireless ports, may take up to four days, or possibly longer, based on complexity of the port and the wireline carrier.

Many customers will need a new wireless phone, since different wireless companies use different technologies.

A "Live" Number is Required:
Don't cancel service before switching. A number must be active to switch; in other words, customers wanting to switch carriers must keep their service active with their old provider until the port is complete.

Having A Recent Bill Will Help:
Customers should have their most recent bill from their old carrier available, and know any account- related passwords, to speed the porting process.

Expect Dual Service:
Customers will need to carry their old and new phones until the port is complete, the old phone for receiving calls, the new phone for making calls. In an emergency, we recommend that you place calls to 911 from your old handset as Emergency Services will not be able to call you back on your new handset until the port is complete. Also, although both old and new carriers will bill for calls, customers will not be billed twice for the same phone call.

Be Prepared To Provide a "Can Be Reached At" Number:
Customers should be prepared to provide a phone number where they can be reached during the porting process to expedite the resolution of any problems.

Status Information:
Some customers "porting" their number will be given a phone number to call for status updates and may receive a TEXT message notifying them when the process is complete.

Old Features:
Saved voice mail messages will not transfer to the customer's new phone. Some retail stores are able to transfer contact phone numbers from a customer's old phone to their new phone.

Contract Terms Still Apply:
Portability does not relieve any customer of contract obligations.

Porting Tips from the FCC:


Under the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) “local number portability” (LNP) rules, so long as you remain in the same geographic area, you can switch telephone service providers, including interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers, and keep your existing phone number. If you are moving from one geographic area to another, however, you may not be able to take your number with you. Therefore, subscribers remaining in the same geographic area can now switch from a wireless, wireline, or VoIP provider to any other wireless, wireline, or VoIP provider and still keep their existing phone numbers.

Initiating the Process to Change Wireless Companies:
  • Do not terminate your service with your existing company before initiating service with the prospective new company.
  • Contact the new company, which will start the process of porting your number by contacting your current company. Be prepared to provide the new company with your 10-digit phone number, customer account number, five-digit zip code, and passcode, if applicable.
  • Be aware that when terminating service with a wireless company, you may be obligated to pay any early termination fees under your existing contract. Also, when terminating service with any company, you are usually required to pay any outstanding balance owed. Review your bill or contract to determine what fees or charges apply. Once you request service from the new company, however, your old company may not refuse to port your number, even if you owe money for an outstanding balance or termination fee.
  • You may request service from a new company at any time.

Fees and Charges:
  • Companies may assess fees to recover the costs that they incur in providing number portability. Fees may vary between companies, and some companies may not charge any fees.
  • Companies may not refuse to port a number because a consumer has not paid for porting.
  • When considering a switch, consumers should ask the new company whether it charges any number portability fees and whether those fees can be waived.

The Porting Period:
The FCC has changed its number porting rules to shorten the porting period for “simple” ports from the current four days to one business day. The new deadline applies to all simple ports, including “intermodal” ports such as wireline to wireless, wireless to wireline, wireline or wireless to VoIP, or any other combination. Simple ports generally do not involve more than one line or more complex adjustments to telephone switching equipment. Wireline, wireless, and interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers are required to meet this new, simple port deadline, which will take effect in late summer 2010 for most carriers. Small, rural carriers have a longer period, until the beginning of 2011, to meet the new porting deadline.

During Porting:
If you port from a wireline phone to a wireless phone, there may be a period of “mixed service” – when you essentially have two telephones with the same number. Ask your new wireless company whether you will be able to continue using your current wireline number during the one day transfer process. Also, if you port from a wireline phone to a wireless phone, your wireline long distance company will not move with you. Your long distance service will generally be provided by your new wireless company, but you should verify this with the new wireless company before changing service providers.

Emergency Services:
In some areas, 911 operators automatically receive the phone number or location of a wireless call, but in many areas, that is not the case. Technology that will provide that information – Enhanced 911 or “E911” – is currently being implemented, but is not yet available for some wireless phones and in some parts of the country.

As noted above, during the one day porting process from the old company to the new company, there may be a period of “mixed service” - when you may have two telephones with the same number. During this time period, your E911 service may be affected. The call should go through, but the 911 operator may not be able to call you back if the call gets disconnected. For this reason, before porting either a wireless or a wireline number, ask the new company if the one day porting process will affect a 911 call.

Handsets and Special Services:
In some instances, wireless handsets of different wireless telephone companies are incompatible. If you switch wireless companies, you may need to purchase a new handset, even if you retain the same phone number. If you have concerns about purchasing a new handset, ask your new wireless company whether or not your current handset will work with that company’s network.

Also, be aware that in a few areas, as consumers with ported numbers roam outside their normal wireless service areas, they may only be able to send and receive calls. Other services, such as caller ID, may not function properly.

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