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What You Should Know About 
Transferring Your Cell Phone and
 Home Landline Phone Numbers!

  The Federal Communications Commission wireless number portability mandate, which will allow cell-phone users to take their phone numbers with them when they switch carriers, begins on Nov. 24 for the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas. The rest of the country will be covered by May 24, 2004.

While this new freedom should benefit consumers as phone companies compete for their business resulting in lower prices and better service. Consumers also should be aware of the following issues when switching their home phone line in  to cellular service.

Know Your Rights and Obligations:
Your carrier can't stop you from switching or try to delay the process, even if you still owe a contract-termination charge (typically $150 to $200) or monthly dues. 

On the timeline, be aware that even though the wireless industry has said "porting" (as it's called) should take no longer than 2 1/2 hours, you might have to wait a bit longer, especially in the beginning. Your old carrier could also require you to pay a porting fee. Ask your new carrier to reimburse you.

Don't Cancel until you find a new carrier:
  Switch your carrier before you cancel your existing service. Your phone number belongs to your current carrier until it's transferred, so if you cancel before you switch, that number will simply go back to the original carrier's pool. 

Here's how it's supposed to work: You go to your new carrier and say you want to sign up, but you also want to keep your number, your new carrier will put a request for your number transfer directly with your current carrier. The two carriers will then match your information (bring an old invoice to your new carrier to avoid possible mistakes), and once the number is switched, your old service may be automatically cancelled. Keep your old phone until the switch happens and then double-check that your old service is no longer in effect.

Shop Before You Switch the Phone Line:

There are a number of Web sites to help you do that. You can find them by doing a general search in any major search engines or Click Here to compare and find Cellular Phones. But the prevailing wisdom says don't change anything right away. Give the companies a few months at least to get the bugs out.

Landline incoming is free but not the Wireless: Most cell plans are priced per minute, and get pricey when you exceed your limit. However, local landline (home phone) service is often a flat rate in which you pay the same fee no matter how much you use the phone. Many cell phone plans charge for incoming calls, but landlines do not. Take care to consider how much you will use the phone and whether the cell plan includes a sufficient number of minutes for your outgoing and incoming calls.

Extras and Long Distance on home phone line: Home phone service typically charge extra for such things as caller ID, voice mail and, of course, long distance. Cell phone plans often include the extras and long distance in their service. If you switch from a home phone to wireless, your long distance service will not move with you, so make sure to verify your long distance options when changing to a cell phone provider.

Safety with Home Phone Line: If you dial 911 from your home phone, the emergency operators can immediately pinpoint your location. If you dial 911 from your cell phone at home or on the road, most emergency operators cannot readily locate you, and unfortunately, there is no guarantee that your call will get through.

Service Quality: Consumers frequently complain about wireless service quality, such as dead zones and dropped calls. Overloaded networks and "dead spots" can affect your ability to use a wireless phone in ways that are not a consideration for landlines.
Whether consumers are switching their home phone number to their cell phone, or switching cell-phone companies, they also should consider the service quality.

Extra Fees when switching carriers: Companies are allowed to charge a fee to departing customers for their cost of switching over phone numbers, but cannot charge in excess of these porting costs. Some companies may pay your current phone providers cost in order to get your business. Consumers should remember that if they change service before their contract ends, they likely will pay a termination fee. They should also keep in mind that while they get to keep their cell phone number, they might not be able to keep their cell phone, so consider the cost of a new phone before switching.

Initiating a Switch: If you want to change cell phone carriers, or move your home phone line to a cell phone, contact the new carrier, who will start the process. Do not terminate service with your existing carrier before initiating a switch. Also, know that you are obligated to pay any early termination fees that may apply with your existing cell phone provider.

Switching Time: It should only take a few hours to move your current cell phone number to a new cell phone provider (wireless-to-wireless transfer). It is expected to take several business days to complete a home Landline to cell phone transfer (Landline to wireless). Make sure to ask the cell phone company you are moving to if you will still be able to use your home Landline during the transfer process.

 For more information on wireless-to-wireless transfers, or Landline-to-wireless transfers, call the Federal Communications Commission, 1-888-225-5322 or visit

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