Wireless Local Number Portability (Wireless LNP)
Frequently Asked Questions:1) What is wireless local number portability (LNP)?
2) Who should consumers contact if they want to port their number to a new carrier?3) Are carriers allowed to charge for number porting, and, if so, how much can the charges be?
4) Can different carriers charge different amounts?5) 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?
6) Can consumers port a wireline number to a wireless phone?7) How long will the porting process take?
8) If consumers port a number to a new wireless carrier, can they still use their current phone?9) Will porting my number cause any problems with E911?
10) Do the porting requirements apply to paging carriers?11) I've heard that some consumers experienced difficulties while attempting to port their numbers during the initial rollout of wireless LNP. What should I expect if I try to port my number now?
12) How do I file a complaint?
--------- answers by number given below -------1-Q: What is wireless local number portability (LNP)?
A: Wireless LNP is a wireless consumer's ability to change service providers within the same local area and still keep the same phone number.
Wireless LNP allows 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.
Wireless LNP also allows consumers to move a phone number from a wireline phone to a wireless phone in some cases.2-Q: Who should consumers contact if they want to port their number to a new carrier?
A: 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 bill, which will have their correct name and address as it appears in the carrier's database. 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.3-Q: Are carriers allowed to charge for number porting, and, if so, how much can the charges be?
A: Carriers are allowed to recover their costs of implementing wireless LNP by charging 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.
Carriers may recover their costs either by including line-item fees for LNP on their customers' monthly bills or by raising the monthly rate. Carriers that have been adding line items to consumer bills to recover LNP costs have typically been charging 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.4-Q: Can different carriers charge different amounts?
A: 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.5-Q: 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?
A: Yes. While consumers who wish to switch carriers may request service from and port numbers to a new carrier at any time, they are still obligated 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. Some contracts may state that the customer's phone number may be the property of the existing carrier. This may or may not be true and enforceable under the law. Contact the FCC for more information on this as needed.
Generally 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 the old carrier does in fact 'own' the number, that carrier may agree to release or waive its 'ownership rights' after the outstanding balance has been paid. Contact the FCC for more information on this as needed.6-Q: Can consumers port a wireline number to a wireless phone?
A: Wireline-to-wireless porting is 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 service will generally be provided by your new wireless carrier.
Pursuant to a court-ordered stay, most small wireline carriers currently are not required to port numbers to wireless carriers until the FCC completes and publishes a study about the effect of the porting rules on small carriers. (TELECOM Editor's Note: This was the rule in summer, 2005. Check for any more recent changes. PAT)
After the FCC completes and publishes its study about the effect of the porting rules on small wireline carriers, these carriers may still have an exemption from the porting requirements if they have received a state waiver. The law permits state public utility commissions to grant certain small wireline carriers waivers from the number portability requirements. Customers who want to port a wireline number to a wireless phone and are told that they cannot should contact their state public utility commission to find out whether their wireline carrier has been granted a waiver. Check with your state commission for updates on this.7-Q: How long will the porting process take?
A: For a wireless-to-wireless transfer, the porting process should take approximately two and a half hours from the time the porting request is made of the old carrier. The FCC has not mandated a specific time frame for the wireless-to-wireless porting process. Two and a half hours is the time frame agreed upon by the wireless industry, and the FCC encourages carriers to use that time frame.
A wireline-to-wireless port will probably 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.8-Q: If consumers port a number to a new wireless carrier, can they still use their current phone?
A: For various reasons, wireless handsets are often incompatible among different wireless service providers. Consumers will likely need to purchase a new phone, even when they retain the same phone number. Even when a phone can be reprogrammed to work on a new network, most carriers may have policies against doing so.9-Q: Will porting my number cause any problems with E911?
A: 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.10-Q: Do the porting requirements apply to paging carriers?
A: No, the porting requirements do not apply to paging carriers. These carriers claim to 'own' the number used for paging. See question 5 above for some discussion on this. Generally, paging carriers do _not_ have to release their numbers.11-Q: I've heard that some consumers experienced difficulties while attempting to port their numbers during the initial rollout of wireless LNP. What should I expect if I try to port my number now?
A: Since the rollout of wireless LNP began, in 2005, the FCC has been monitoring wireless and wireline carriers' progress in implementing number portability. While there were a few technical bumps in the road during the initial stages of the rollout, carriers have resolved most of these issues and we expect the remainder of the implementation process to go smoothly, in most instances.12-Q: How may I complain about problems I've had with this process?
A: First, try to clarify things with your wireless company. If that fails, direct your inquiry to your state commission or the FCC.