Porting mobile phone numbers

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Porting mobile phone numbers

When AT&T Wireless was going GSM, they offered an unlimited talk-time plan for $99 as an inducement for people to switch from AMPS/DAMPS. We are pretty chatty, and took the plan. GSM coverage was fairly spotty throughout the country as a whole, but it worked well in this editor’s office and home, and we soon had pretty much stopped using our home or office phones, and eventually go rid of everything but the mobile phone.

Unfortunately, a problem developed where we got frequent drops in calls from our office – a problem that continued after Cingular took over the network. There was a consensus opinion from the herd of support people that it was a problem with the local (we could see it from our window) cell. It happened to other AT&T Wireless users when they came to our office, and nobody could fix it.

When it was announced that telephone numbers could now be ported from carrier to carrier, independent of whether they were originally issued to mobile phones or landlines, this editor was very excited. A decision was made to port the number to a landline. While in general this worked out well, there are some caveats about which we should have known, but didn’t.

According to Verizon, when a number is ported to another service provider, it isn’t actually moved to the new provider. What really happens is that the number is, in essence, forwarded from the original service provider. Thus, when one calls our number it goes to an AT&T Wireless switch (now owned by Cingular), and is then sent on to Verizon, who puts it through to us.

What does this mean in real life? Well, according to Verizon it means that if you have call waiting and call forwarding, and your calls are forwarded, and someone has called, if anyone else calls they will get a busy signal, rather than you getting an indication that there is another caller.

While porting of numbers is a wonderful idea, it is still not quite ready for prime time. So if you decide to port a number, find out what limitations will come with the port. It may (or may not) be better to just get a new number.

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