US Number Portability Still on a Bumpy Road
By Eric Lin, Wed May 12 22:45:00 GMT 2004

In two more weeks the entire US, not just the top 100 markets, is supposed to have access to number portability. But many regional carriers still aren't ready.

Last November wireless subscribers in the US's largest 100 markets were allowed to keep their number if they changed carriers. Initially the switches were unpredictable, some taking more than a week. Months later the bumps seem to have been smoothed out -- at least among the national operators. Verizon is complaining that many regional carriers are still dragging their feet.

When only the major markets were open to WLNP, the sluggishness of regional players was not as serious an issue. However May 24, the regional carriers' grace period ends and WLNP is supposed to be available to all markets, including the less populated areas where regional providers thrive. May 24 is also the date set for all wireline carriers to offer number portability to wireless phones.

It appears that an additional six months still wasn't enough for regional wireless or rural wireline carriers. This Thursday the will FCC meet, most likely to learn up to 90 regional wireless carriers still have not complied with WLNP. In addition it is expected many rural wireline companies will ask for more time or to be excused altogether from complying.

Six months ago the CTIA was making a last ditch effort against WLNP. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, and the major members have all complied, the CTIA has come out against granting the rural carriers any waivers.