Cingular Shifts Argument Against Number Portability
By Eric Lin, Wed Sep 24 21:15:00 GMT 2003

Recently Verizon made a switch and became the first major US carrier to come out in favor of number portability. Instead of following suit, Cingular is leading the charge against LNP with a new argument: it could be a bad experience for customers.


Cingular and the other major US carriers will continue to fight LNP, attempting to stop it in the courts with a new argument. Initial claims were that implementing LNP would be too expensive, but that was quickly dismissed once it was shown that carriers have already begun charging subscribers fees to make the necessary changes. Citing technical glitches and confusing processes, Cingular now claims that switching carriers while keeping your number could be "more confusing than it sounds," according to a new article on News.com.

Not surprisingly, this sounds like a problem that the carriers could fix with some helpful information- or if not the carriers, at least a helpful consumer group or some friendly websites. While they haven't begun to offer instructions, the Consumers Union (the non profit group that heads up Consumer Reports) have begun a campaign in favor of Local Number Portability. Called Escape from Cell Hell (thanks Gizmodo).

It's nice to see support from such a powerful organization, however it sounds like Consumer Union is giving LNP too much credit. The web page makes it sound as though LNP will cure all our carrier woes. That it will force carriers to treat customers better under the threat of losing them (and their precious phone number). However subscriber churn is already quite high in the US, despite the inconvenience of changing numbers. What more will carriers do in order to keep their customers? That's not to say LNP should not be implemented; it should. However it is not wise to believe that this one step is all US subscribers need to get better treatment from the carriers.