How To Switch Cellular Carrier and Keep Your Number
Since November 2003, more than five million customers have taken advantage
of a new rule, allowing customers to switch providers and keep their old
numbers. Consumers can also switch their home telephone numbers to their
wireless carrier and keep the same number.
You've probably seen the cell phone carrier ads telling you how easy
it is to switch your service while keeping your old cell number. But it's
not always so easy. Here's how to help make the transition smooth:
- Set up your new service first.
Do not cancel your current service until the change is complete. If
you cancel your existing service first, you may lose your phone number.
The number must be active to switch.
- Have a recent bill handy.
You will have to provide your name, address and account number exactly
as they appear on your bill. This reduces the chance of error. Problems
may arise if the new name and address don't match exactly.
- Be prepared to buy a new cell phone.
While the number can come with you, your cell phone is not likely to
be compatible with your new carrier's system. Depending on the plan
you choose, the new carrier may throw one in.
- Read your contract carefully.
Read your existing contract carefully to learn about any applicable
early termination fees and other contractual requirements. Once you
request service from the new carrier, your old carrier may not refuse
to port your number, even if you owe money for an outstanding balance
or termination fee.
- Listen to all your voice mail messages.
They will not be transferred to your new phone. Same goes for the numbers
stored in your phone.
- Allow for some slippage.
Although cell phone numbers are supposed to be switched in a couple
of hours, it may take longer. You will be able to make outgoing calls
on your old cell phone during the transition but when the switchover
happens, incoming calls will go only to your new phone.