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Carriers Might Profit From Cell Number Portability 184

Makarand writes "Carriers that are adding cell-number portability fees to your monthly cell phone bills (while fighting against actually implementing the requirement) may actually rake in profits from these levies as the total amounts collected will be more than the projected costs of meeting the FCC's number portability requirements. Although federal law requires that such fees be 'just and reasonable', it does not require reporting of their actual expenses. Consumer advocates feel that the number portability verification processes required are similar to those used by long-distance phone companies when a customer switches from one service provider to another and there is little reason to believe that expenses to meet portability requirements should vary widely among carriers and be so excessive as to bring profits for the carriers."
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Carriers Might Profit From Cell Number Portability

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  • And ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vanieter ( 613996 ) <lpsavoie AT gmail DOT com> on Monday August 18, 2003 @03:22AM (#6720912)
    is this supposed to be surprising or something ?

    We're talking about private corporations trying to make more profit after all.

    "Although federal law requires that such fees be 'just and reasonable', it does not require reporting of their actual expenses."
    That pretty much sounds like giving the cell phone corporations carte blanche.
    • by WIAKywbfatw ( 307557 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @05:27AM (#6721166) Journal
      I'm shocked, shocked to find that the carriers are using this as an excuse to gouge their customers!

      Whatever next? Companies that exploit their workers? Accountants that fudge the numbers? Politicians that lie?
    • is this supposed to be surprising or something ?

      Yes, the fact that they would be making more money must be the reason that the companies ran to number portability so quickly ;-)

      How many years were they blocking it for again- and it turns out they make more money from it?? Ten? Five?

    • re: "And... [slashdot.org]"

      Is this supposed to be surprising or something?

      We're talking about private corporations trying to make more profit after all.

      "Although federal law requires that such fees be 'just and reasonable', it does not require reporting of their actual expenses."
      That pretty much sounds like giving the cell phone corporations carte blanche.

      Private corporations are not the only entities guilty of trying to exploit vague language about "just and reasonable" fees. Government agencies do it, too

    • Charging for this is seen as a method for the carriers to raise your rate while you are under contract. Those long term contracts you sign with a carrier are in thier best interest. They get to keep you and your monthly fee for roughly 2 years. Problem though, they want the best of both worlds, long term contract AND ability to raise your rates if thier costs go up. Well maybe they should sign shorter contracts. Some justify the increase as passing on a mandated cost. IMHO, that is part of doing bus
  • by idles ( 556867 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @03:24AM (#6720915) Homepage
    The portable cell numbers came to use in Finland just a month ago. The result was a furious fight between the operators fighting for customers: free radio phones, DVD players etc. if you became their customer. But then one of the operators realized it's better off to give benefits for existing customers. They lowered prices for the weekend and started a campaign saying "Our customers are doing better". I think that's the right way to go. I don't want to be switching my cell phone operator all the time. So in the end, customers really did benefit from the change.
    • by seanadams.com ( 463190 ) * on Monday August 18, 2003 @03:46AM (#6720979) Homepage
      Hear hear!

      I stopped using my cell phone about a year ago when I realized that I could get by in life just fine without being on call 24x7. To be fair, before that I was running an ISP and *did* need to be on call but anyway...

      I went about six months paying the bill on the thing, thinking that the next time I go on a business trip it'd come in handy. Last month I needed to go to Europe, so I figured no problem - I'll just go upgrade my plan and switch to the GSM phone. But could I just upgrade my plan, NO! They needed my social security number to run a new credit check, they insisted that I needed the model with a 4" color screen that played video games, and they said that even the base model would cost me $400 ust to get started. AND I'd have to sign a NEW two-year contract to get that special price. I just left my old phone on the counter and walked out. Called Xingular when I got back to the office and cancelled my service.

      I will sign up fora cell phone again when I can get my choice of a flat monthly rate or a per-minute-only rate on a phone that works everywhere in the world with no long term contracts. And don't pull stupid shit like subsidizing the service with the price of the phone and vice versa. I don't insist that it be "dirt cheap". I know it costs $$$$ to build a world-wide cellular network, but there is a fair and reasonable way to charge for it and nobody's offering that.
      • by rossz ( 67331 ) <ogre@geekbiker.nFORTRANet minus language> on Monday August 18, 2003 @04:07AM (#6721023) Homepage Journal
        Sounds similar to what I did. I called up to change my service plan. Nothing major, I just wanted more minutes before the extra fees kicked it. They wanted a new two year contract. I told them that was completely unacceptable and that if I couldn't simply increase the minutes without a new contract then they could cancel the service that very moment. They insisted the contract was required - so I cancelled.
        • They insisted the contract was required - so I cancelled.

          There is something fundamentally wrong with any business that turns away customers. This reminds me of posts about how Best Buy employees would turn away customers who didn't want the extended warranties (they should just be happy to be moving stuff off of shelves!).

          I would have thought that total sales volume was more important than sucking each individual customer dry, but, then, I could just be an idiot for thinking that customer satisfaction a
      • by pheede ( 37918 )
        It's interesting to see how much this differs between countries. Someone else noted, that number portability is very easy, and essentially free, in the UK, because of the intense competion between cell providers.

        It's the same situation in Denmark: basically no one charges when transferring your number from another provider, since they are desperate to get you to change. Couple that with 1 DKR per minute (~15 cents), no monthly fee and no contract that binds you.
        • In the US before cell phones started becoming more common, companies providing long distance service on land lines (AT&T, sprint, MCI, etc.) got to be quite competitive, resulting in their offering to pay on your behalf (or otherwise refund you) a "switching fee" that the local phone company would usually charge (like 5 to 10 bucks). Plus, they would offer to switch you back for free if you weren't satisfied.

          Around the same time a phenomenon known as "slamming" was growing into quite a nuisance. Th
          • ...I might expect to see slamming starting with cell phone carriers...

            Mm, how? If, e.g., a T-Mobile (GSM) rep slammed an AT&T customer (CDMA?), seems to me they'd have to give the slamee a new phone. Also, imho (IANAL blah blah) a slammer that caused its new "customer" to be hit with an early termination fee would be exposed to all kinds of legal action.

            That being said, I have faith in human ingenuity. The folks that persuaded thousands of idiots to order penis enlargement pills should have little

            • > a T-Mobile (GSM) rep slammed an AT&T customer
              > (CDMA?), seems to me they'd have to give the slamee a
              > new phone.

              Technologically, it's doable, but not as easily.

              AT&T Wireless uses mostly D-AMPS IS-136, but they're trying to roll-out GSM into their markets because a) D-AMPS sux, and b) the data capabilities of D-AMPS sucks. Cingular is in the same boat as AT&T Wireless.

              [Note that, as any anal-retentive RF Engineer will tell you, GSM and IS-136 D-AMPS are both TDMA (i.e., Time Divisio
              • by mgs1000 ( 583340 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @09:06AM (#6721778) Journal
                It is impossible to reprogram the SIM in a GSM phone over the air, and that would be necessary in order to change providers. Also note tha most carriers now sell "SIM-locked" phones, ones that will not work with other operators. If somehow a carrier could reprogram a SIM, the phone would just stop working

                Another thing, AWS is switching to GSM because they can cram more calls into any given channel compared to D-AMPS. It wasn't about quality. There is arguably no difference in sound quality to the end user. It was capacity issue. (Remember the class action suit brought against them a few years back because they oversold service) And as for data, a few telecom equipment companies were working on a data solution for D-AMPS(comparable to GPRS) but stopped development when AWS annouced that they were switching to GSM back in 2000.

                • You're right; I forgot about the SIM for GSM phones. Yes, that would make it difficult to reprogram a GSM phone. However, CDMA IS-95 phones don't use SIM cards, so they could still be affected.

                  The driving factor for AWS moving to GSM was data, but a side effect is marginally better voice quality. GSM has better voice quality than IS-136 TDMA, mostly because the codecs can be more efficient because of the wider channel bandwidth --GSM uses 200 kHz, as opposed to IS-136 which uses 30 kHz. As such, with 8 use
      • If you need a phone in Europe, buy a SIM card when you get there. In most other places, incoming calls are free. As a result, if you get a prepaid SIM card that lasts a month, people can call you and you won't burn through your allowance.
        All you need is a cheap GSM phone - $400 is way too much. You can buy them outright (unlocked - which is important) for under $150 (I paid $300 for a fancy one in Madrid last time I was there and my previous phone died on me).
        • If you need a phone in Europe, buy a SIM card when you get there. In most other places, incoming calls are free. As a result, if you get a prepaid SIM card that lasts a month

          Damn, you beat me to it.
          However, one other thing you might want to consider is that you can just buy a SIM-locked prepaid phone (like here in the states), but like the jconner says, you won't normally pay for incoming minutes, so you can *ping* your US counterparts and have them call you back. I did this for over a year in France, an

    • by Zemran ( 3101 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @04:21AM (#6721053) Homepage Journal
      In the UK they have to allow portability of your number. I recently wanted a new phone as my old one was now a year old. My phone company (Orange) wanted 150 UK pounds for the phone I wanted (Sony T610) but another company (Vodaphone) would give me the phone for free if I switched to them. When I asked my phone company for a PAC number which is the code that I need to take my phone number with me to the new company, the old company decided that they could give me the new phone for free as long as I agreed to a new 1 year contract (same as the new company would have required). My current contract costs me 12 UK pounds each month (including 20 minutes of calls) so it is cheaper to take the contract than buying the phone.
    • Bullshit.

      Or rather, think about this for one tiny second before posting.

      The fact of the matter is is that being "better for customer" DOES NOT SCALE. If every company did the set of things that your current company does, then that would be considered the norm, and, given relatively constant demand, profits would go south. I think there a dot-com boom or somesuch that had elements of what I'm describing.

      Now, your company is probably doing what it can for a number of reasons:

      • they're ignorant
      • they're
      • Wrong. In a market where people will use all possible tricks to switch mobile phone providers at the drop of a hat, especially when they want to switch to a new mobile phone model, it's actually cheaper to subsidise the customer that stays:

        You pay the same amount of subsidy on the phone as for a new customer, but you don't have all the acquisition costs, since the guy is already with you.

        New customers that switch to your service and get a new phone and then bugger off after 6 months or a year only end up
        • This statement:

          In the long run, you can actually attract customers if you build up a rep for good service and pampering your established customer base with new gizmos on a regular basis

          Incicates that you really didn't understand what I was saying.

          My point was that "good" service is relative. Even the crappiest korean car of today has better reliability than the rolls royces of the first half of this century, but we consider them to be substandard because they are so in relative terms.

          So, if your ad

  • by tynman ( 544474 ) <hishighness.gmail@com> on Monday August 18, 2003 @03:29AM (#6720937) Homepage Journal
    What makes me ill about the FCC allowing them to charge for this is that we're still going to be paying that $1 "number portability fee" 20 years down the road when all the carriers have long since paid off the expenses of "upgrading" their networks. Does anyone know if there's a date set for when they can't stop milking us on this anymore???
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2003 @04:13AM (#6721036)
      Well given that in America you must still pay a fee to have touch-tone dialing, 20 years after it was first introduced I'd say that the evidence indicates you'll all still be paying your number portability fee in 20 years time, too.
      • by BenjyD ( 316700 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @05:55AM (#6721228)
        You're joking right? Does anybody even own a pulse-dial phone? What is it with the US telco industry - it seems to lag behind the rest of the world so much.
        • Your are right. That's why I'm moving back to Europe!
        • As recently as four years ago, I went with pulse dialing - as a student, I didn't see the point in paying a couple bucks extra a month for something of so little marginal value. The only difference I see that it makes is that you can navigate through IVR applications instead of talking to a customer service drone. Yippee....
          • Isn't pulse dialling much slower? You have to wait for the pulses, especially annoying if you're redialling someone. I'm pretty sure I've used customer service lines that assume you have a touch tone phone
          • As recently as four years ago, I went with pulse dialing - as a student, I didn't see the point in paying a couple bucks extra a month for something of so little marginal value.

            A little known secret is that even if you signed up for pulse only, touch tone usually worked anyways. These days they'd actually have to do some work to block touch tone, rather than to enable it, as it is so pervasive.

            I don't see a charge for touch tone dialing anymore though, so I am assuming this has been rolled into my ridi
        • by bogasity ( 517035 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @07:53AM (#6721462)
          My parents still have pulse dialing precisely because the phone companies charge for tone dialing. The way my Dad sees it, he's probably forcing the phone company to maintain an ancient switch just to support him, so they are losing money by not giving him the tone dialing for free.
        • And it can piss off the phone company when you refuse to switch over to touch tone. A relative was one of the last people at her CO to switch over to touch tone. The phone comapny was practically begging her to switch over to touch tone so that they could get rid of the old equipment.
        • I have a pulse dialing phone. I use it to force certain companies to provide people instead of a VRU....sorry I can only select option 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 :) Think about what you are saying, why would they move forward if it means giving up profit ?? Upgrades COST, when they can increase what they charge you WITHOUT increasing anything else, BINGO the dream market for telecom's and it exists in the US today....
  • Breaking News (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thebatlab ( 468898 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @03:31AM (#6720938)
    This just in....companies out to make a profit!! :)

    Ok, seriously, this feels like just another article to get everyone all riled up over "the man". Yes, it seems outrageous what companies like Sprint and NextTel are charging. Does this mean that they aren't just trying to cover their costs and possible pot a bit of profit off of a new service offered to customers? Ok, maybe it seems like they want to make an excessive profit. Don't like it? Well, it looks like the gov't already has a watchful eye on them (if that's any comfort ;)) and is ready to impose regulations if they really get carried away.

    Everything a company does can't be done just at cost. A company needs to make a profit to be able to fully survive. It looks like Verizon is able to recoup these costs thanks to existing reserves or they are willing to take the hit for increased customer satisfaction which is great to see. It's so great to see that if I was in the States, I would probably switch over to Verizon as soon as my contract with one of those other companies was up (or sooner!).
    • This just in....companies out to make a profit!! :)

      And this just in ... the profit motive is one of a dozen motives that human beings operate from, and our propensity for elevating it above all else, and claiming that is a good thing under all, or even most, circumstances has blinded us to numerous problems it creates, catastrophes it has caused, and better solutions it cannot offer. Monsanto's profit motive killed people in a small southern town in the United States during the 1990s, when they dumped to
    • For that matter, the FCC rules don't say that you can't make a profit on this upgrade, just that the fees be "fair and reasonable". This means that, if you only need a minor upgrade to deal with it, you can charge a "fair and reasonable" fee which goes directly to profit. This, of course, rewards the companies that were planning ahead for this sort of thing at the expense of companies like (evidentally) Sprint, which is good, because it was presumably the companies who could handle portability easily that g
    • Here's the problem. You gotp buy a cell phone. You compare carriers and they all have $29.95 service. But its not really $29.95, now you gotta add up all their levies. See where the problem comes in? These government allowed levies allow carriers to false advertise their monthly price.
  • It's very hard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by toddhunter ( 659837 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @03:31AM (#6720940)
    To be terribly surprised by anything like this. Just wait until the portability measures are implemented and forgotton too. Don't be surprised if the charges are still there, especially since they are effectively 'hidden' from view.
  • Side effects (Score:5, Informative)

    by Advocadus Diaboli ( 323784 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @03:35AM (#6720956)
    I live in Germany where we have that feature for some while. One problem now is that I call a number that "belongs" to the same provider that I'm using, so I think that I do a call inside the providers net (which usually is cheap), but in fact the one that I call has switched to another provider and my call costs much more than I expect. :-(
    • Re:Side effects (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ThaReetLad ( 538112 ) <sneaky@blueRABBI ... minus herbivore> on Monday August 18, 2003 @03:55AM (#6720999) Journal
      Here in the UK number porting takes a couple of weeks with no paper work and no fee. The competition between networks is so intense that the mobile telcos are desperate to make it easy for people to change from one network to the other.
    • Re:Side effects (Score:4, Interesting)

      by BrokenHalo ( 565198 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @04:09AM (#6721026)
      The problem of inter-network call costs isn't going to go away, but I fail to understand why the US telcos are fighting so hard about this. Here in Australia, all of the services offer number portability (no questions asked, in fact it's assumed that you want it) without the need for time-consuming credit checks and so on. When I changed from my last provider to Vodafone, the SIM they gave me was active within 30 minutes of walking out of the shop. That's how long it took Vodafone to clear details with the earlier service and get everything working.

      And I don't have to sign up for plans that commit me to spending $[some_large_number] per month; just a flat rate per 30 seconds.

    • Re:Side effects (Score:5, Interesting)

      by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @04:15AM (#6721038) Homepage

      Complain to your regulator and your competition authority. At least in Germany they have some serious teeth.

      There is no technical reason whatsoever for the operators not to use ISDN call divert (or the equivalent mapping for this service in SS7 terms) as a mechanism for transfering the call to the new destination. In this case the only time when the call travels to the premises of the old operator is when it is set up. The actual voice (or data) should go directly to the new destination. There is no reason to charge you for the call set up only as for an entire call and there is no reason to route the call through the old operator network.

      The fact that the phone operators in Europe do not use this on purpose (it has been in GSM since 1997) is already a part of an investigation by the European comission. More specifically, it is the investigation on unfair roaming charges.

      So you are in you right to b*** and should do so. As a result of enough people b*** we may sooner or later get decent roaming charges for roaming mobile to roaming mobile calls so it may be a good idea to be persistent in this.
  • by silentbozo ( 542534 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @03:37AM (#6720962) Journal
    Verizon has been collecting "number portability fund" fees on my land-line for years. Can I migrate my number to another carrier? Hell no! Can I get my fees waived/refunded? Sorry, but those funds go into a common pool to provide number portability. But I can't move MY number! Sorry, but your number is in an area where number portability is not offered...

    The only way to win this game is not to play - I canceled my second line earlier this year. Take that Verizon!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2003 @03:37AM (#6720963)
    ... here in the Netherlands you only pay about 20 Euro *once* for the number portation to your new GSM provider.
    • Why is it strange? The theory is that consumers will more easily accept small, periodic charges than large, one-time charges, even if they work out to the same total in the end. It's the same theory behind micropayments, but because you're already paying a (much larger) phone bill the fee is even less likely to be noticed. And it needn't result in consumers being screwed, as long as the fee is limited in duration (which at least two companies are saying).
  • Important Question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Go Aptran ( 634129 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @03:43AM (#6720973)
    There's an administrative fee to cover costs of maintaining the transfered phone number.... but will my cell phone company charge me an extra fee to take my number with me when I leave it after November?

    • That will probably depend on the company you're leaving. There was a blurb in the news last week about some carriers Trying to put obstacles in the way of leaving customers [washingtonpost.com].

      So maybe they charge you a fee, maybe they tell you that you can't transfer out until you pay an early termination fee, maybe they tell you you can't transfer out until you pay them a disputed amount on your bill, or until you pay your last bill in full, etc, etc

      This kind of makes sense since the company wants you to stay. Sad that s
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2003 @03:47AM (#6720981)
    1) cell phone number portability
    2) profit!
    • by Gherald ( 682277 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @04:01AM (#6721010) Journal
      > 1) cell phone number portability
      > 2) profit!

      No "???" step?

    • by deathcow ( 455995 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @05:04AM (#6721125)
      YES thats almost right, but you just need to make step 1 be step 2, and add the following step 1:

      1a) switch engineers: implement SS7/SCP related stuff
      1b) switch engineers: implement telephony switch related stuff
      1c) developers: implement SCP/SS7 related provisioning methods,test
      1d) developers: implement telephony switch related provisioning methods, test
      1e) developers: implement API for telephony network portability
      1f) developers: implement portability front end for customer service apps
      1g) developers: test top to bottom, front end, middleware (like metasolv), through API
      1h) developers: document for users/trainers
      1i) trainers: train cust svc reps on applying portability
      1j) cust service reps: apply portability !

      2) cell number portability

      3) profit!

  • portability in oz (Score:5, Informative)

    by narkotix ( 576944 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @03:47AM (#6720982)
    In australia there was a big thing about the largest carrier preventing number porting. Our consumer watchdog (ACCC) got onto the case and made things start to happen which was good for us consumers!
    Here is a report [aca.gov.au] detailing what the ACCC requested from the ACA (australian communications authority) to look into number porting for australian carriers.
    • Just to summarise, in Australia the ACCC (consumer competition watchdog) mandated that number portability be free, since by forcing people to pay to keep their old number they were effectively impeding businesses that relied on their number being well known to conduct their business, thereby reducing competition because customers were less likely to change carriers as a result.

      So now, if I want to change to a better provider here in Australia, it won't cost me anything to keep my old number.

      Ironically, I
  • Netherlands (Score:5, Informative)

    by Captain_Chaos ( 103843 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @03:54AM (#6720993)
    Here in the Netherlands cell phone providers have been forced to let customers keep their existing phone numbers from competitors for a few years now. They don't charge extra for it (I don't think they're allowed, the mobile phone business is very strictly regulated over here), but they do have a tendency to take much longer to port your number than they should. I think it works moderately well, prices aren't exactly low but I think they'd be signigicantly higher without mandatory number portability.
  • Verizon (Score:5, Informative)

    by heli0 ( 659560 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @04:02AM (#6721013)
    "Verizon says it has not yet decided whether to levy a number portability fee."
    http://news.com.com/2117-1039-1020501.html [com.com]
    Verizon Wireless Chief Executive Denny Strigl said Tuesday that unlike rivals, Verizon won't collect monthly or one-time fees from subscribers who want to keep their original telephone number after switching carriers.
    Has Verizon wavered in their stance in the past two months, or are they just trying to leave themselves some wriggle room?
  • by ratfynk ( 456467 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @04:14AM (#6721037) Journal
    I was thinking of changing carriers because my (Telus) plan was a real ripoff. Then I went saltwater flyfishing and forgot that my cell phone was in my coat pocket. It solved the problem. I have found that if my voice mail, e-mail and pager will not suffice for the caller then the person calling was not worth talking to anyway. I always return calls from real people and finally realised that the ones that are desperate to get something for nothing in a hurry use the cell to call you. If it is that important people will get through. Cell phones for some people are a huge waste of money. They were for me. The next time I think about getting a cell I will just go fishing instead!
    • Cell phones for some people are a huge waste of money. They were for me. The next time I think about getting a cell I will just go fishing instead!

      Exactly. I used to pay at least $40US/month for a cell phone. I took it everywhere - went out of my way to use it. Then my plan came up for renewal and I decided to drop it. I haven't missed the phone at all.

      At work everyone carries a cell phone, so they can get rudely interrupted in meetings. I think that this makes them feel important. But you know, it
  • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @04:15AM (#6721040)
    Ok, number portability... this is cool... I have to say keeping your old number when switching carriers, this is just spiffy. Paying a fee for it... well might as well, you are nickled and dimed on this issue anyway... not a big thing.

    I live in the States, while I mobile use isn't quite up there with the rest of the world, we already have had create quite a few extra area codes. That pesky issue of running out of seven digit phone numbers.

    What I want is a system where by you actually keep your freaking landline number, and dial a diffrent prefix to hit the users mobile or fax/data device.

    Now that would be what I call real number portability!
    • Why not just have your land line call forward to your cell phone, and tell people to call your land line number? You can switch the # you're forwarding to whenever you get a different cell.
      • Why not just have your land line call forward to your cell phone, and tell people to call your land line number?

        The major problem with this is that in many areas of the USA, the local telegraph company calling areas are so small that your cell phone number may end up being an expensive intra-LATA call from your landline phone. If this is the case and you enable call forwarding from your landline to your cell phone, then you will have to pay the per-minute toll charges for every incoming call to your cel

      • Why not ... call forward

        i can do this... I'm considered to be an odd duck because I read my phonebook's information section. To be honest, I never inquired about passive call forwarding, to be honest it was never listed in my phone book and I didn't want to deal with the pesky humans.

        However, other people can't do this, or don't think about doing it, or you bring it up to them and they'll get around to it and don't actually bother doing it.

        Why shouldn't I do this? Well had they actually offered a se
    • by Asmodai ( 13932 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @05:03AM (#6721124) Homepage
      In the Netherlands we already have had that system in place for years.

      Our normal land lines have prefixes for the major cities, such as:

      Rotterdam - 010
      Amsterdam - 020
      Utrecht - 030

      GSM, buzzers/pagers, and such were using 06 prefixes. Sexlines and info numbers with costs per minute/conversation are 0900 (used to be 06 as well), and free informational phonenumbers (toll-free) are 0800.

      Number portability for mobile phone numbers has been regulated in the Netherlands for a while now due to OPTA. If a provider has its services down for a certain percentage in a month the OPTA will fine the appropriate provider.
    • I love my cell number, very easy to remember pattern ( xyx y[x-1][y-1]0 ) and I'd love to move it over to Nextel. Since my employer is the main source of phone traffic to my cell, I can get added to the company plan if I have a NexTel phone.

      I'd also like to get a slightly larger phone. My current one is too small for my hands.

      The moral of the story, never let your S.O. pick out something as personal as your cell phone.

      Off on a tangent as usual
    • With time, and efficiently allocation of the telephone numbers to companies, this will be possible, in a slightly different form:


      Can't do it exactly with the prefix, but could with the, umm...suffix. :-)

      (I do meet people who do have phone numbers in order like that incidentally.)
  • Sounds like they're up to their dirty [becomethemedia.com] old tricks [slashdot.org] again. But then again, what are we to expect?
    • Sounds like they're up to their dirty old tricks again. But then again, what are we to expect?

      What you need is some proper goverment action. The Norwegian goverment put its foot down when the telecomms wanted to regulate number porting themselves. The Gov said that "portability is to be free (as in beer) for the customers and easy to do. And don't try to fuck them over by doing something funny, we know that GSM portability is not complicated like brain surgery". Well, the last part was understated. Now th

  • by nordicfrost ( 118437 ) * on Monday August 18, 2003 @05:04AM (#6721127)
    We have this feature in our system, and it has been there for some time now. The number porting system was a real boon to the smaller price-competing phone operators who previously had problem attracting customers. One of the companies, the price and service leader, has gone from 800 subscribers to well over 100 000 in just a year. I'm switching to them, so is my friends, mom, dad, girlfriend and her family. Left is the former state monopoloy, Telenor, which is hemmoraging customers.

    With number portability in a free market, the greedy actors are exposed really fast.

    There is also no fee for porting here, the only fee is an optional (for the company) connection fee. The very notion of having a fee is absurd in a GSM system, remember; it is made for quick portability. Porting your subscription is done in one step: Tell your new operator that you are switching to them and be sure to mention the phone # while you're at it. Done. The new SIM card arrives after a while and the porting date comes via email. Or snailmail if you want it to.

    • same in Finland. after 25th of july this year(law).

      except that you get the sim card usually straight from the desk and it will activate in few days time(you will get an sms on the old card that says that you should switch the new card in).

      i think it's a great service, after having the same number for 5-10 years it really makes it hard for people to change.

      having to pay monthly for such option would be totally absurd though.

      and what are the normla gsm prices here? the one i switched to is 0.17e per minut
    • It should also be mentioned that the Norwegian "FCC" set up a website were customers can compare prices. You just enter in how much you call, approximatly when and how many SMS's you use per month, and you get a list of the providers which is cheapest.

      This, together with number portability, has really benefitted the cutomers. It should be an example for other contries to follow. It's actually a bit shocking to see the government doing something right for a change. Especially something so "technical" as reg
      • Yes, and the link is here: Telepriser.no [telepriser.no]

        Understanably, the site is in Norwegian, but if you peak around, the concept is probably clear to you. And interesting. Looking at the figures, I'm in for a 200 NOK (approx. 30 USD) save each month by switching from Telenor.

        Telepriser.no and the national opt-out list for telemarketers is probably the things US Slashdotters could learn the most from us. The deregulation of the power grid is probably just as fucked as in California.

  • by release7 ( 545012 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @05:12AM (#6721141) Homepage Journal
    Gotta love it. When you try to balance the playing field and have genuine, open competition by allowing number portability, the corporations can find a loophole to slant it in their favor. And once again we see that the embracing of deregulation by corporations is merely a ruse to get government off their backs so they can make obscene profits from customers.

    I'm all for capitalism. However, it works best when there is a somewhat equal distribution of wealth. If corporations are permitted to squeeze every last dime from consumers and workers pockets, we will soon find our economy in shambles.

    The regulatory pendulum has swung to far in one direction. It's time to put the regulatory squeeze back on corporations. We must ensure that, instead of leeching off our economic engine, corporations contribute to it in a healthy, productive way.

    • But that's the amazing thing about the free market.

      Some provider will get the bright idea that they can entice customers to switch to them because the offer "number portability at no extra charge". Thus Provider A gains customers and Providers B-Z have to figure out how to keep up or go out of business.
  • by EmagGeek ( 574360 ) <gterich&aol,com> on Monday August 18, 2003 @05:30AM (#6721177) Journal
    I pay $2.20 on my bill for "number portability."

    I called to let them know that I am dropping them for another carrier at the end of this month, and that I planned on taking my number with me...

    They said, and this was a real gas, "We don't offer that service. You'll have to give up your phone numbers if you leave Sprint."

    "But you're charging me for number portability!"

    "I'm sorry, sir, but you won't be able to keep your numbers"

    "Then why are you charging me for number portability"

    "Sir, Federal regulations require that we charge the number portability fee"


    I couldn't believe my ears..

    Anyone else with Sprint heard the same story? I think that charging a fee for a service one can't utilize comes down to, oh I dunno, fraud...
  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @05:59AM (#6721240) Homepage

    We've had portable numbers for years... and most of the US mobile companies are Europe based and work in the UK, T-Mobile, Vodaphone etc. So the quick summary is...

    1) We've done it in the UK (and the rest of Europe)

    2) European companies dominate the carrier networks

    3) We're just doing it to piss you off.
    • This is why I subscribe to Verizon, which:
      1. Is a US company
      2. Doesn't have a sucky network like T-Mobile
      3. Doesn't change me for number portability.
      I guess this is why I am not pissed (that means upset, Mr. UK Person).
      • 4. Charges outrageous rates (I'm on them, and can't wait to switch in November).
        5. Doesn't charge for number portability because they don't offer it, and are fighting in court the possibility of having to.
        6. As seen in this, will fight in court having to do anything that might benefit the consumer.
        • 4. Charges outrageous rates (I'm on them, and can't wait to switch in November).

          Ho huh? I just looked at sprintpcs.com and verizonwireless.com and they both have 300 minute national plans for $35/mo, but Verizon gives you 1000 mobile to mobile minutes (in addition to the free night and weekend airtime). How does that make Verizon outrageous? Anyway, I'd be willing to pay more for Verizon because their network doesn't suck. I don't work for Vz, but I am a satisfied customer.

          5. Doesn't charge for num

  • A Big Game.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TygerFish ( 176957 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @06:40AM (#6721319)
    It's all a game really. Living under pure capitalism is an attempt to make life as much of an adventure as possible and it produces some odd statements, none of them odder than the some of the ones generated by using a cell phone cellular.

    The ellipses of cellular usage are bizarre things, from: 'The fact that American companies and ONLY American companies charge both the person who placed the call AND the person receiving it doesn't make us BOTH suckers,' to 'technological fashion demands that I pay a lot of money so my boss can reach me while I'm making love.'

    Yes, the inner game of cellular use is a strange one and you've got to play it as smartly as possible on your end because you are an amateur while the people working for the multibillion-dollar corporations whose whole reason for existing is to replace the payphone are trained professionals who think of ways of rogering their customers on overtime.

    So where does this leave you when it comes to number portability?

    Stay flexible. As the poster from Finland pointed out, where he is, number portability lead to companies making big efforts to keep customers from switching to other companies. Something like that *might* happen here--you can certainly imagine that entering the mix when the legislation is enacted--but it is just as likely that the same class of businessmen who brought you the eternal copyright will certainly use the fees the law grants to hide another fifty-cents on your bill every month while kicking and screaming to avoid giving you a choice. Why would anyone expect them to do otherwise? There's no downside for them.

    Your part of the game as a customer is to maintain all the flexibility, and the best bargaining position you can in dealing with them. Look at it this way. As things are now, switching out of a new contract with a provider already means, handing a company that has proven its lack of worth a stack of bills so you can own a dead cell phone.

    Cellular providers hold all the psychological cards against switching so it's your job to find the company that combines the strongest mix of features with the strongest motivation for keeping you. If that means paying ten dollars a month so you can plan-hop when they offer something better than what you have, or jump ship if someone else outbids them, so be it.

    Making the right decision can surprise you: I use a phone from one of the smaller fish in the big game and during the recent blackout, my web service functioned for a while even after my voice service didn't, and I ended lending my phone to several people whose service only came back hours later.

    I think the best way of thinking about ones relationship with cellular providers is to think of it as friendly warfare. :D

  • by kimmop ( 121096 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @06:42AM (#6721324) Homepage
    In Finland, the company that loses a customer, can charge the porting fees from the telco that receives the number. The standard fee is negotiated beforehand between the telcos and no company dares to (directly) charge the fee from the customer they are about to receive.

    This way the telcos can't rise and obscure the prices by claiming it's because of the number portability.

  • by SenseiLeNoir ( 699164 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @07:25AM (#6721403)
    againt this shows the difference between Europe and the USA. I live in the UK, and number portablity is painless, free, and well organised to the point that people dont even think tiwice about it. Although oftel says 2 weeks at max to transfer, it usually happens within days. cellphoen operators cannot refuse to do it.

    more importantly, thanks to the strict regultations, number portability gives an EXTREME amount of power to the users.

    For example, if I ever feel that TMobile (my provider) is not performing as well as i expect, i simply threaten to ask for my PAC number (a number provided to port your number) and its suprising how far they will bend back to help you :) especially with me being a good revenue costomer for them! :)
  • Portability? Hah! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by schnarff ( 557058 ) <alexNO@SPAMschnarff.com> on Monday August 18, 2003 @09:15AM (#6721841) Homepage Journal
    I can personally vouch for the fact that phone companies are doing their best to not provide local number portability while busily raking in cash.

    I recently decided to switch from Verizon to Cavalier Telephone [cavtel.com], a local CLEC. It took me almost two months to complete the transition, including some two weeks where I had no inbound phone service, unless the caller was coming from Cavalier's network (i.e. 0.0001% of the universe). Sparing everyone the gory details, I had problems including:
    • Cavalier required me to be at home to tell a technician to cut over from my Verizon line, despite my having told them it was OK at least a dozen times over the phone
    • Neither company could explain exactly what was happening with the split-bank on my line, required (at least by Verizon) for DSL. Understanding a that problem and getting it fixed added two weeks to the switchover.
    • When Verizon finally claimed it had ported my old number, they didn't bother to change their routing information, leaving me with my lack of inbound service. Neither company had a way of expediting a fix ("That'll be 3 business days, sir"), or even a person or department who specifically dealt with number portability or the like.
    I was paying both companies throughout the switch, mainly due to the fact that if I cancelled my Verizon account, the number I was trying to port would have disappeared for good.

    I was told many times over that neither company had ever experienced such a painful switch; even so, the fact that such a disaster could happen at all tells me that companies aren't paying nearly the attention they should to number portability issues, considering the millions they're raking in from it.

  • Imagine if the FCC told Cisco and all the ISPs that every IPv4 address had to be portable between every provider, so that customers weren't inconvenienced when they switched. Everyone would say hell no, because it would destroy intelligent heirarchichal routing. The backbone routers would end up needing a flat list of all 4 billion IP addresses and which specific destination to go for each one. Routing CPU usage would increase drastically, and the lookup tables would require what, 8GB of memory at minimu
  • by merdaccia ( 695940 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @10:29AM (#6722304)

    I'm amused by our friends across the pond feeling bad for Americans because they don't have number portability? But do our friends with the silly accents realise the sorry state the US is in when it comes to mobile telecom in general?

    Let's begin. The carriers here have no concept of a SIM card. Most phones are CDMA and are firmware locked to the provider. There are only two GSM networks I know of, T-Mobile and AT&T. Tri-band phones from these places cost as much as a Yugo. In addition, AT&T "provider locks" their expensive tri-band phones to only work on AT&T, and will not unlock them, not even for a fee (AT&T, if you're reading this, there are places online that unlock your phones for $20 or less, so screw you). T-Mobile unlocks your phone within 72 hours of being on contract, which is decent, however. Oh but should you wish to get a newer mobile from them, you have to resign a 1-2 year contract...

    Oh yes, the contracts! Wait til you hear about these! Everyone's on contract here, because it's too expensive not to be. So here's how it works. You have this allotted quantity of minutes you pay a fixed monthly fee for, then you pay exorbitant rates (40c+ a minute) if you use them up. These quantities are decent, for example, T-Mobile offers 600 minutes, free nights, free weekends, and 500 SMS for $43 (27 quid) without tax. Nice eh? Umm, no, little do you realize how backwards the billing schemes are here. For one thing, minutes from that "600" get deducted for every incoming call. Even SMS get deducted for every incoming SMS sometimes. And 1 second rounding? Try 1 minute rounding. And if you don't use all your minutes in a month? *poof*, gone. Cingular's trying rollover, but since they're not GSM, they don't count. Oh, and should you wish to add or remove the number of allotted minutes to your plan, you have to resign a 1-2 year contract, with a termination fee in the $100 or $200s.

    So in short, who gives a crap about number portability? How about we get reasonable plans and GSM phones which take SIM cards, before we worry about switching providers and keeping our numbers? What would you rather do, keep your phone when you switch carrier, or keep your number when you switch carrier? Especially since a decent triband costs hundreds of dollars?

    • BTW: Cingular is GSM and TDMA at least in the tristate area...
      But I agree with what you are saying about the locked phones...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Do some research.

      Cingular and AT&T are TDMA/GSM hybrid networks. Cingular has decent GSM coverage in the Carolinas -- T-Mobile roams on Cingular (free of charge) while in the Carolinas. However, I hear that much of Cingular's coverage is limited, and AT&T has more of its TDMA areas covered by GSM. AT&T and Cingular sell GAIT phones, which support GSM, TDMA, and AMPS.

      T-Mobile is all GSM. In areas where T-Mobile doesn't have coverage, T-Mobile can roam on parts of Cingular's and AT&T's netwo
    • Oh, and should you wish to add or remove the number of allotted minutes to your plan, you have to resign a 1-2 year contract, with a termination fee in the $100 or $200s.

      Verizon doesn't do this. You can change your plan any time. It's one of the features of their service that they advertise a lot. You can check how many minutes you've used in the current month by dialing *646 (which doesn't deduct any minutes); if you're afraid of going over, you can call them and immediately go up to the next plan lev
  • by BrynM ( 217883 ) * on Monday August 18, 2003 @11:31AM (#6722797) Homepage Journal
    The last time we /.ers were talking about portability, someone tried to say [slashdot.org] that their company was going to lose money on implementation and that's why they were fighting it. He stated that they had already spent $100 million on the transition. That struck me as a challenge and I dug up some numbers. Sorry to quote my own post, but it seems pretty relevant to this - especially since the SBC numbers weren't quoted in the article.
    This [austinchronicle.com] says that "Southwestern Bell charges 33 cents to each customer" and has been for since 1999. So let's see, this [sbc.com] says that SBC has "6.9 million wireless customers across the United States" as of 1999. It's been 54 months since January 1, 1999 including this month. 54 * 6,900,000 = 372,600,000 months of total charges. 372,600,000 * $0.33 = $122,958,000.00 which makes a $22,958,000.00 profit(!!!!) on the $100,000,000.00 re-tooling you mention if it were SBC. That's not even counting the growth of the customer base since 1999!

  • No, what the carriers actually profit from is misleading their customers into thinking a roaming call is "in network" via a very subtly different on-screen display (thanks, SunCom!) leaving their customers with an obscene phone bill. However, given that these customers most likely will not renew their contract, perhaps the carriers will simply burn in hell (a fitting end, I think).

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