Several groups are stepping up efforts to get the Federal Communications Commission to act on a proposal that would speed the time it takes wireline companies to complete a number port.

Wireless carriers typically complete a number port within two-and-a-half hours – oftentimes in a much shorter time period – but wireline carriers get four business days to complete a port, which can extend into six calendar days, depending on when the request is made. Sometimes, that can stretch into a longer timeframe if technical glitches get in the way.

Entities like CTIA, Comcast, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and 11 members of Congress have weighed in on the matter, all supporting a shorter porting timeframe.

T-Mobile USA, which offers the @home product that competes with landlines, is one of the carriers leading the charge for change. The current porting interval is effectively anti-competitive, and T-Mobile hopes the Commission will act promptly to shorten the time in the interest of consumers, says Tom Sugrue, vice president of regulatory and legal affairs at T-Mobile.

It’s an urgent issue for T-Mobile because when consumers get frustrated with slow porting, they often abandon efforts to switch carriers. Comcast voluntarily instituted one-day porting with T-Mobile, but AT&T, Verizon and Qwest have not agreed to a T-Mobile request to meet Comcast’s terms.

While it sounds like a no-brainer issue for wireless carriers, getting the Commission to act on it is another matter. The digital TV conversion and the development of a national broadband plan have taken center stage at the FCC, and it’s still transitioning as part of the new administration. Julius Genachowski has not yet been confirmed by the Senate as the new FCC chairman.

Backers of a shorter porting interval say more time could be given to smaller wireline carriers if they are unable to upgrade their systems to allow for faster ports. The main opposition to the measure appears to come from the USTelecom broadband association.

More Broadband Direct 04/10/09:
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