FCC: Landline number move should take 1 day, not 4

Wed, 05/13/2009 - 8:35am
Peter Svensson, AP Technology Writer

NEW YORK (AP) – The Federal Communications Commission voted Wednesday to force landline phone companies to act faster when their subscribers want to move their phone number to a rival service.

The Commission will require companies to transfer, or "port," landline phone numbers within one business day, down from the current four-day requirement.

Wireless numbers are currently ported within one day – in many cases within hours – and the Commission said landline companies should be just as fast.

Landline numbers can be transferred to competing landline services, such as those from cable or Internet calling companies, or to cell phones.

The shortened porting period should take effect in about one year.

The FCC told the North American Numbering Council, which coordinates number issues for the carriers, to develop new procedures within about three months. The carriers will then have nine months to comply. Smaller carriers will get an extra six months, for a total of about a year and a half.

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Blair Levin said the order is likely to benefit wireless carriers and cable companies, while imposing new costs on smaller, rural phone companies like Little Rock, Ark.-based Windstream Corp. and Monroe, La.-based CenturyTel Inc. Such companies have fewer customers over which to spread costs.

For more than two years, carrier T-Mobile – along with Comcast – has been among those lobbying for a shorter porting interval (story here).
“We commend the FCC on today’s decision to adopt a porting interval of one business day,” said National Cable & Telecommunications Association President and CEO Kyle McSlarrow. “In the current competitive environment, consumers benefit from a shorter porting interval for moving numbers when choosing a new provider. As consumer advocates, state commissions and elected officials have noted, when consumers can efficiently switch providers, prices are lowered and quality is enhanced. This decision is a victory for consumers.”

“T-Mobile applauds the leadership of the FCC today for reducing the wireline-to-wireless porting interval to one day,” said Tom Sugrue, vice president of government affairs at T-Mobile. “In doing so, the chairman and commissioners have acted in the best interest of consumers and competition. We look forward to working with the commission and the NANC to facilitate a rapid and smooth transition.”

Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps said the Commission has been encouraging the industry for years to shorten its porting intervals, and that the time had come to force action.

Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell joined the two Democratic commissioners for a unanimous vote. The Commission currently has two empty seats.

The FCC also voted to require Internet calling companies to notify their customers and the Commission before shutting down. Some companies have abruptly departed from the business, most notably Sunrocket, which stranded 200,000 subscribers in 2007.

– Wireless Week’s Monica Alleven contributed to this report

More Broadband Direct 05/13/09:
•  FCC: Landline number move should take 1 day, not 4
•  Cisco to supply Clear network gear, WiMAX CPE
•  Bresnan's Brookstein to take on COO role
•  LRG: Top cable ops snag 52% of Q1 broadband subs
•  Frontier to buy rural Verizon lines for $5.3B
•  Sprint to offer MiFi hotspot
•  SlingPlayer comes to iPhone
•  Broadband Briefs for 05/13/09



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