Keeping Your Wireless Number when You Switch Carriers
by: Tom Spelling
Some consumers are hesitant to change their cell phone provider,
even if they see a better deal, simply because too many people already know their existing cell phone number. Meanwhile, that cell phone contract service may be costing you an arm and a leg every month. You
can better manage your cellular budget with prepaid, and you don't have to lose your old cell number. Depending on your carrier, there may be a small fee involved for the transfer of service.
The FCC has
required most carriers to implement Local Number Portability (LNP), which is a service that lets you transfer a phone number to another carrier, so long as the new carrier is still in your local area. You
can take advantage of the LNP mandate to switch wireless carriers and keep the same number, or even to transfer your landline phone to a cell phone. You can't transfer a pager number, toll free number, or
some other types of special use numbers.
Usually, when you transfer your phone number from an old service to a new service, your old service will be disconnected automatically. If your old service was a
contract type cell phone service, and your contract has not yet expired, you may still have to pay fees to the old service. But if you're transferring between prepaid services, as always, no long-term
contracts or related fees will apply.
LNP doesn't mean, however, that you can use a cell phone as an extension of a landline phone; if you transfer your landline phone number to your cell phone, your
landline service will be disconnected. In the future, carriers may be able to offer such a service, however. For the time being, the best way to use your cell phone as an extension of your home phone is to
use the call forwarding feature of your landline home phone.
You can transfer a phone number regardless of your carrier, the FCC has mandated that a carrier may not refuse to port a phone number to
another carrier. If you want to port a phone number to a new service, contact your new provider first, they are the ones who will take care of the transfer. Don't cancel your old service before the porting
process begins, or you may lose the ability to transfer the number. Also be aware that cellular providers sometimes have incompatible telephones, and even though you may be keeping the same phone number, you
may still need to buy another cell phone.