In less than a month, November 24th, we will be able to keep our current mobile phone numbers if we so choose. Known as "number portability" or "NP", we will albe able to keep our mobile phone numbers when switching service providers. This raises several questions:
- does this mean the end to regular "home-style" landline telephone numbers? Currently it is in the works to be able to - very soon we will able to transfer numbers from landline phones to wireless phones. Will this mean that "One call does it all"? Some analysts now think that wireless service, with packages that often include unlimited nighttime and weekend calling, is cheaper than landline. Roughly 4 percent of households nationwide have made the switch to all wireless. That percentage is expected to increase to 15 percent in the next five years.
- on the positive side, cell phone users aren't targeted (as much) as landline users by bothersome telemarketing calls. The FCC prohibits telemarketers from using autodialers or prerecorded messages to call cell numbers. The FCC regs don't prohibit live telemarketing calls, but most telemarketers use autodialers.
- NP is great for the consumer, but what will happen when you take your existing phone hardware to a new service provider? Some providers will only activate phones purchased from them. Which companies will be friendly about activating phones from outside their sales line?
- will restriction in technology, (operating band frequencies) stop one manufacturers phone from working with another service, since other services are on different bands?
- competing service providers are not allowed to delay or refuse the process of switching to a new service provider even if even if they owe their old provider money for ending a contract early, according to the FCC. The switch should take about 2-1/2 hours. Even if your old provider is attempting to collect fees or settle and account, or for other reasons unrelated to validating a customer's identity, you can still be talking up a storm on YOUR number with a new service provider.
- for those in rural areas - The FCC mandates the ability to keep a wireless phone number when changing carriers in rural areas, as opposed to about 100 metro areas, by May 23, 2004.
- currently there are a number of disadvantages to consider before cutting the landline cord, shortcomings that keep "many households firmly attached to Ma Bell's apron strings". Some are reluctant to give up their landline because of Internet access. But, with the advance of wi-fi networks, will this option be moot? The phones of the future will access private and public wireless networks at home, and a public wi-fi networks on the road.
- it's estimated that 80 million number transfers will occur by the end of 2004.