Local Number Portability
What is wireless number portability (WLNP)?
WLNP is a wireless consumer's ability to change service providers within the same local area and still keep the
same phone number.
WLNP will allow consumers to switch from one wireless carrier to another within the same general metropolitan
area. It does not allow consumers to keep the same phone number when moving to a new town or city.
Can consumers port a wireline number to a wireless phone?
Wireline to wireless porting will be possible in some cases. Consumers interested in porting a number from a
wireline to a wireless phone should check with the prospective new wireless carrier to see if wireline to wireless
porting is an option for them.
If you port a number from a wireline phone to a wireless phone, your wireline long distance carrier will not
move with you. Your long distance carrier will generally be provided by your new wireless carrier.
Once porting becomes available, whom should consumers contact if they want to port their number to a new carrier?
Consumers should contact their prospective new carrier, who will start the porting process. The new carrier
will first confirm the consumer's identity and then make a porting request of the old carrier. When consumers
go to their new carrier to port a number, they should bring along a recent wireless bill, which will have their
correct name and address as it appears in the carriers' databases. This should aid in making the porting process
go smoothly. Once a valid porting request has been made, the old carrier cannot refuse to port a number.
How long will the porting process take?
For a wireless-to-wireless transfer, the porting process may take up to four days from the time the porting request
is made of the old carrier. The FCC has not mandated a specific time frame for the porting process. Four days is the time
frame agreed upon by the wireless industry for rural carriers, and the FCC supports and encourages carriers to use that
A wireline to wireless port will prabably take longer to complete, and could take several days. Before porting
between wireline and wireless phones, consumers should ask their new service provider how long the process will take.
Are carriers allowed to charge for number porting, and, if so, how much can those charges be?
Carriers are allowed to recover their costs of implementing WLNP by carging fees to customers. They have been
allowed to do this in advance of the LNP deadline because they have been incurring costs for LNP upgrades in preparation
for the deadline.
For the past several months, many carriers have been including line-item fees for LNP on their customers' monthly
bills, ranging from a few cents to a little over a dollar.
Carriers are also allowed to charge a fee to customers at the time their number is ported. However, there are no
rules preventing a new carrier from paying an old carrier's porting costs for the benefit of the new customer. You
should ask the new carrier whether it has a policy of paying or reimbursing such charges.
Can different carriers charge different amounts?
Yes, because different carriers have varying costs of operating due to numerous economic factors. Although the
FCC does not regulate the amount of such charges, all such charges must be just and reasonable.
If a consumer has a long-term contract with a carrier, is that consumer still obligated to pay an early termination
fee even if he/she ports the phone number to a new carrier?
Yes. While consumers who wish to switch carriers may request service from and port numbers to a new carrier at
any time, they are stillobligated to pay any early termination fees they may have under an existing contract, and
they are obligated to pay any outstanding balance owed to the old carrier.
Consumers interested in switching providers should review their existing contract to determine what
fees or charges would apply.
However, once a consumer has requested service from a new carrier, the old carrier may not delay or refuse
to port a number even if that individual owes money for an outstanding balance or termination fee.
If consumers port a number to a new wireless carrier, can they still use their current phone?
For various reasons, wireless handsets are often incompatible amoung different wireless service providers.
Consumers will likely need to purchase a new phone, even when they retain the same phone number.
Will porting my number cause any problems with E911?
During the time the number is being ported from the old carrier to the new carrier, there may be a period
of "mixed service" when E911 service is affected. If customers call 911 during this period, the call should go
through. However, the 911 operator may not be able to call consumers back if the call gets disconnected.
Before porting either a wireless or a wireline number, consumers should ask their new service provider
how long the porting process will take and how the porting process will affect emergency services.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW...
All portability is Local. "Local" portability means that you can only take your number to a new
carrier that serves the same location as your current carrier. In other words, you can't port you number from
one metro area to a new carrier in another city hundreds of miles away.
Prevent A False Start. Don't start by canceling service with your current provider - or you might
lose your number. Start with the carrier you want to switch to. Your new carrier will then contact your current
provider to trasfer your phone number.
Know Your Current Contract. Review the terms of your current contract. You may be subject to an
early termination fee if you cancel your existing wireless service before a certain amount of time.
The Devil is in the Details. Your new carrier will need to know specific information about
your existing account. So for convenience, bring your most recent monthly bill when you go to transfer
your phone number. If you don't have a copy of your bill, be sure to bring the exact details of your account,
such as your name as it appears on the bill, your billing address, account number and current phone number.
If any of that information is messpelled or written incorrectly on your application, your number transfer
could be delayed significantly.
Find a New Phone and A New Plan That Fits. You may need a new phone when you switch carriers, even
if you are keeping your number. Wireless carriers offer a wide variety of feature-filled devices and numerous
service plan options. Get to know the various rate plans, coverage areas and special features, so you can make
a choice that's best for you.
Plan for a Process. When you go to a retail store to transfer your phone number to a new carrier,
schedule plenty of time to fill out the necessary application forms, choose your new phone and rate plan, and
possibly wait while other customers do the same. Porting your phone number during the first few weeks following
May 24 may take up to a few business days.
Exceptions To The Rules May Apply. All wireless telephone numbers will be eligible for porting on
May 24. However, if you are trying to transfer a wireline number (also called a landline number) to a wireless
carrier, this service may not be available in your area. A few states have granted waivers to some rural wireline
phone companies, and additional waivers may be granted in the future. You should check with your local phone
provider or the state public service commission to learn if your wireline number is eligible.