Portable cell numbers on the way

This April post ranted about the lack of portable cell phone numbers here in the States (unlike many international countries).However, Business Week reports that things will soon change for the better:

This Thanksgiving, America’s 147 million cell-phone users will have something to be thankful for: On Nov. 24, we’ll finally be allowed to switch carriers without having to change our phone number.

Now, we will be able turn the table on wireless carriers that have been torturing us for years with dropped calls, inconsistent customer service, and complicated price plans that require an advanced degree in comparative analysis to comprehend.

Upshot for the cell phone companies: more customer turnover, or churn, which already tops 27% annually (source: CTIA).

So far, AT&T, Sprint, Cingular and Nextel plan to charge additional monthly fees of up to $1.75 to cover projected profit declines. Only Verizon has accepted the new rules:

On June 24, [Verizon] CEO, Dennis Strigl ended his fight against the new rule. He also pledged to make things “easy, automatic, and quick” for customers who want to change carriers.

Perhaps this FCC mandate will spur some industry consolidation and bring better consumer pricing and services.

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