2003-11-21 / Community

Portability For Cell Phone Users

Portability For Cell Phone Users

Starting next week, and for the first time, cell phone users who change carriers will be able to keep their cell phone number. So-called "portability" will give cell users more freedom to change carriers, and more flexibility to shop around for the best deal.

For years, cell carriers have tried to discourage consumers from switching to a competitor by preventing them from taking their phone number with them when they change. As a result, consumers were faced with a Hobson’s choice: stay with service they don’t want or go through the hassle of telling everyone they know or work with their new cell phone number.

Not anymore. 

Starting November 24, so-called cell phone "portability" goes into affect. Portability means that when wireless consumers change service providers within the same service area, they can take their phone number with them. 

Representative Anthony Weiner, sponsor of the Cell Phone Service Disclosure Act, hailed the development. "For years, the wireless industry has employed the bait and no-switch, luring consumers with expensive bells and whistles and then making it nearly impossible for them to change carriers.  Portability is an important step in the right direction, finally tipping the advantage from the carriers to the consumers." Consumers who wish to keep their old phone number need only request that their old number be "ported" when they sign up for new service with a new carrier.

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