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Carriers Might Profit From Cell Number Portability

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the yay-for-oligarchies dept.

The Almighty Buck 184

Makarand writes "Carriers that are adding cell-number portability fees to your monthly cell phone bills (while fighting against actually implementing the requirement) may actually rake in profits from these levies as the total amounts collected will be more than the projected costs of meeting the FCC's number portability requirements. Although federal law requires that such fees be 'just and reasonable', it does not require reporting of their actual expenses. Consumer advocates feel that the number portability verification processes required are similar to those used by long-distance phone companies when a customer switches from one service provider to another and there is little reason to believe that expenses to meet portability requirements should vary widely among carriers and be so excessive as to bring profits for the carriers."

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fp (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6720903)

fp for lunix fagz.

Req: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6720908)

Where can I download 2600 volumes? I can't believe those basturds want money for it!

And ... (4, Insightful)

Vanieter (613996) | more than 11 years ago | (#6720912)

is this supposed to be surprising or something ?

We're talking about private corporations trying to make more profit after all.

"Although federal law requires that such fees be 'just and reasonable', it does not require reporting of their actual expenses."
That pretty much sounds like giving the cell phone corporations carte blanche.

Re:And ... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6720998)

"That pretty much sounds like giving the cell phone corporations carte blanche."

They can charge $100/minute if they feel like it. And there is nothing you can do about it. If you don't like it, then do not do business with them. Is that too difficult?

I'm shocked... (4, Funny)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721166)

I'm shocked, shocked to find that the carriers are using this as an excuse to gouge their customers!

Whatever next? Companies that exploit their workers? Accountants that fudge the numbers? Politicians that lie?

Re:And ... (0)

Eat Shit A-Hole (667854) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721248)

If you want worse visit Australia where when you call a cellphone from a landline it cost like 39cents a min. Or to call on a cellphone is like ungodly expensive. i would take usa carriers over australia anyday

Re:And ... (1)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721266)

is this supposed to be surprising or something ?

Yes, the fact that they would be making more money must be the reason that the companies ran to number portability so quickly ;-)

How many years were they blocking it for again- and it turns out they make more money from it?? Ten? Five?

Portability in action (5, Interesting)

idles (556867) | more than 11 years ago | (#6720915)

The portable cell numbers came to use in Finland just a month ago. The result was a furious fight between the operators fighting for customers: free radio phones, DVD players etc. if you became their customer. But then one of the operators realized it's better off to give benefits for existing customers. They lowered prices for the weekend and started a campaign saying "Our customers are doing better". I think that's the right way to go. I don't want to be switching my cell phone operator all the time. So in the end, customers really did benefit from the change.

Re:Portability in action (4, Interesting)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 11 years ago | (#6720979)

Hear hear!

I stopped using my cell phone about a year ago when I realized that I could get by in life just fine without being on call 24x7. To be fair, before that I was running an ISP and *did* need to be on call but anyway...

I went about six months paying the bill on the thing, thinking that the next time I go on a business trip it'd come in handy. Last month I needed to go to Europe, so I figured no problem - I'll just go upgrade my plan and switch to the GSM phone. But could I just upgrade my plan, NO! They needed my social security number to run a new credit check, they insisted that I needed the model with a 4" color screen that played video games, and they said that even the base model would cost me $400 ust to get started. AND I'd have to sign a NEW two-year contract to get that special price. I just left my old phone on the counter and walked out. Called Xingular when I got back to the office and cancelled my service.

I will sign up fora cell phone again when I can get my choice of a flat monthly rate or a per-minute-only rate on a phone that works everywhere in the world with no long term contracts. And don't pull stupid shit like subsidizing the service with the price of the phone and vice versa. I don't insist that it be "dirt cheap". I know it costs $$$$ to build a world-wide cellular network, but there is a fair and reasonable way to charge for it and nobody's offering that.

Re:Portability in action (3, Interesting)

rossz (67331) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721023)

Sounds similar to what I did. I called up to change my service plan. Nothing major, I just wanted more minutes before the extra fees kicked it. They wanted a new two year contract. I told them that was completely unacceptable and that if I couldn't simply increase the minutes without a new contract then they could cancel the service that very moment. They insisted the contract was required - so I cancelled.

Re:Portability in action (3, Interesting)

pheede (37918) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721115)

It's interesting to see how much this differs between countries. Someone else noted, that number portability is very easy, and essentially free, in the UK, because of the intense competion between cell providers.

It's the same situation in Denmark: basically no one charges when transferring your number from another provider, since they are desperate to get you to change. Couple that with 1 DKR per minute (~15 cents), no monthly fee and no contract that binds you.

The cycle begins again? (1)

whovian (107062) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721404)

In the US before cell phones started becoming more common, companies providing long distance service on land lines (AT&T, sprint, MCI, etc.) got to be quite competitive, resulting in their offering to pay on your behalf (or otherwise refund you) a "switching fee" that the local phone company would usually charge (like 5 to 10 bucks). Plus, they would offer to switch you back for free if you weren't satisfied.

Around the same time a phenomenon known as "slamming" was growing into quite a nuisance. This is where your phone service (local or long distance) would end up being switched without your explicit authorization as the result of your agreeing to some telemarketing offer.

My point? IANACPC (not a cell phone customer), but given this number portability stuff, I might expect to see slamming starting with cell phone carriers, causing grief to customers over early termination charges, unless of course the carriers would offer to pay that too.

Re:Portability in action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6721258)

Huh? Usually they subsidize the cost of the phone with the price of the service - not the other way around. That is they give you a huge discount on the telephone by making you promise to pay for the service for one or two years. This is to fit in with the American consumer mentality: "if I don't have to pay right now, it's FREE.. doesn't matter what kind of contract I get myself in to". I would rather just buy my own telephone, and then be able to have a correspondingly cheaper monthly service with no long-term contract. The current system just allows certain networks (*cough PCS *cough) to ignore their crappy overloaded networks because their customers are already in a long-term agreement and can't switch services. No thank you. Oh by the way you should try to go back and see what service you can get as a new customer, they might dangle the carrot a little lower since they know they don't have you hooked.

When you get to europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6721292)

1. Go into a supermarket 2. Fork over 20 euro/dollar/pounds 3. Get a pay-as-you-go phone

Re:When you get to europe (1)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721422)

1. Go into a supermarket 2. Fork over 20 euro/dollar/pounds 3. Get a pay-as-you-go phone

I figured there must be somebody at heathrow leasing phones, but I couldn't find any. Do you know of someplace in/near the airport, for next time?

Re:Portability in action (2, Interesting)

iconnor (131903) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721463)

If you need a phone in Europe, buy a SIM card when you get there. In most other places, incoming calls are free. As a result, if you get a prepaid SIM card that lasts a month, people can call you and you won't burn through your allowance.
All you need is a cheap GSM phone - $400 is way too much. You can buy them outright (unlocked - which is important) for under $150 (I paid $300 for a fancy one in Madrid last time I was there and my previous phone died on me).

Re:Portability in action (3, Interesting)

Zemran (3101) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721053)

In the UK they have to allow portability of your number. I recently wanted a new phone as my old one was now a year old. My phone company (Orange) wanted 150 UK pounds for the phone I wanted (Sony T610) but another company (Vodaphone) would give me the phone for free if I switched to them. When I asked my phone company for a PAC number which is the code that I need to take my phone number with me to the new company, the old company decided that they could give me the new phone for free as long as I agreed to a new 1 year contract (same as the new company would have required). My current contract costs me 12 UK pounds each month (including 20 minutes of calls) so it is cheaper to take the contract than buying the phone.

Re:Portability in action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6721327)

All networks would have given you the phone for free (or as good as) if you signed up for a year. I'm gettng the T610 when my upgrade time rolls around. But you really want to get off orange - their customer service is the worst in the country! Check out this, from Usenet:

----------

If I go into Call list and scroll down beyond about the 20th number the
phone will crash. Does anyone else have this problem?
The handset is on Orange-UK.

Any ideas for a solution?
Orange say this isn't a fault but "a feature of modern handsets"

--------

Re:Portability in action (1)

patch-rustem (641321) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721065)

Colour me flaimbait, but I can't believe how backward the rest of the world seems, when compared to Wales.

What you call Cell phones, we call Mobile phones because they have always been portable. I often have to carry mine for miles looking for a signal.

Re:Portability in action (1)

Zemran (3101) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721330)

Wales ??? I think that is a county in the west of England? :) The rest of England has somwhat better coverage with 98% of the country having a signal... I think the phone companies do not think that sheep farmers or their sheep need phones :) so they have not put up the masts.

Re:Portability in action (0)

Channard (693317) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721313)

They lowered prices for the weekend and started a campaign saying "Our customers are doing better". I think that's the right way to go. But did it work, I wonder? It'd be interesting to see how the companies profits compare to its competitors. Just how many people can be swayed by a free gift of shiny baubles? Quite a few, I'd imagine.

NEW ZEALANDERS ARE SHEEP F.UCKERS!!!!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6720922)

Go f.uck a sheep, you stupid kiwi cunt!

text of article (-1, Redundant)

dedicke (91848) | more than 11 years ago | (#6720923)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Some cell phone companies appear poised to profit off a new fee that covers the cost of enabling customers to switch wireless services without giving up their phone numbers.

The fee, permitted by the federal government, is already being levied by four national carriers and is generally less than $1 per month. That adds up quickly when multiplied across the millions of subscribers each carrier serves.

And in certain cases, the money being collected appears to exceed the actual cost of meeting a November deadline set by the Federal Communications Commission for "number portability" -- which will let people keep their cell numbers when switching wireless providers.

Sprint PCS, for example, has about 17.9 million customers who began paying an additional 63 cents per month in July, generating $11.3 million per month for "cost recovery."

Over the course of a year, Sprint's fee would bring in about $135 million at current subscriber levels -- though that amount likely will be even higher since Sprint and other carriers are signing up hundreds of thousands of new customers per quarter.

Sprint refused to quantify its expense for enabling number portability beyond a rough estimate of "hundreds of millions of dollars" -- an amount several times larger than more specific estimates disclosed by rivals Verizon Wireless and Cingular Wireless. Similarly, Nextel Communications says it has spent about twice the costs estimated by Verizon and Cingular.

Although costs surely vary among the different companies, government officials and industry analysts say there is little reason to expect those expenses to vary widely as the carriers upgrade systems and create verification processes similar to those that long-distance phone companies use when a customer switches from one service to another.

"A reasonable person would say that carriers of similar size, serving the same markets, providing the same level of service, would have similar cost structures," said John Muleta, the chief of the FCC's wireless telecom bureau. In fact, he added, almost all wireless carriers are using the same software vendor to implement number portability.

'Just and reasonable' fees required
Other carriers lump their fee for the changeover in with other charges related to regulatory mandates, such as providing enhanced 911 capabilities so a cell phone can be pinpointed in an emergency.

Nextel has been charging $1.55 per month since October; Since the spring, AT&T Wireless has been charging some customers what it calls a temporary fee of $1.75. Since April, Cingular has been charging from 32 cents to $1.25 per month depending on the state. Verizon says it has not yet decided whether to levy a number portability fee.

Beyond a general requirement under federal law that such fees be "just and reasonable," there is no specific cap. Likewise, the FCC does not require the companies to report their actual expenses and the agency is not monitoring the fees.

But other government officials, and consumer advocates, have criticized the new fees as excessive.

"Sprint is just asking for regulation, and we'll bring tougher regulation on them if they do things like this," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York.

Varied estimates
Sprint stood firm in asserting it has already spent "hundreds of millions of dollars" to prepare for number portability. That figure contrasts sharply with public estimates from Verizon, which has irked its rivals by breaking ranks with the industry's long-standing opposition to wireless number portability.

Verizon says it has spent about $60 million on preparations, and estimated its ongoing costs to facilitate number portability at 10 or 15 cents per subscriber per month.

With 34.6 million subscribers, Verizon's estimate suggests that it expects monthly portability expenses of up to $5.2 million, or less than half the amount Sprint will be collecting per month.

Verizon's figures are consistent with the estimates provided by Cingular, which told The Associated Press that setup expenses have totaled about $50 million so far, while ongoing costs are expected to be about $50 million per year.

As such, if Sprint's fee is generating $11.3 million per month, the company will have collected at least $55 million by the time portability is supposed to go into effect November 24, an amount that would be enough to defray all or most of the set-up costs indicated by Verizon and Cingular.

Thereafter, if Sprint's ongoing expenses for number portability are similar to those indicated by Verizon and Cingular, Sprint's "recovery" fee may generate more than $5 million in extra monthly revenue.

Nextel, which has already collected more than $200 million to cover various regulatory costs, said it has spent "more than $100 million" in preparation for portability, but has declined to quantify its expenditures.

Cingular's average fee of 50 cents for all regulatory-related costs approximates what Sprint collects for number portability alone.

AT&T Wireless, which declined to quantify its costs related to number portability or E911, is currently collecting the $1.75 from "less than a third" of its 21.5 million customers. Collection totals will increase as the company adds new customers and as service contracts for existing customers come up for renewal.

However, Doug Brandon, AT&T Wireless' vice president for federal affairs, said most of the costs for number portability stem from the preparations. Once those expenses are covered, "we will eliminate or substantially reduce the fee to cover the ongoing administrative costs."

Neither Nextel, Cingular nor Sprint indicated any plan to stop charging for number portability.

nice subtle troll (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6720964)

Sprint refused to quantify its expense for enabling number portability beyond a rough estimate of "hundreds of millions of niggers and nigras, not to mention the negros and negtards. Don't get me e started on the chinks. Wireless and Cingular Wireless.

In other news: (0, Flamebait)

arcanumas (646807) | more than 11 years ago | (#6720925)

Companies will charge for the air we breathe, if they get the chance...

Re:In other news: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6720946)

Wrong. They'll take away the air and charge us to get it back. They'll also charge us a 'disconnect fee' for taking it in the first place. When we argue that it was wrong of them to do any of this, we'll be sued under the DMCAA and prosecuted under the Patriot Act.

Also, they'll leave a flaming bag of doo-doo on your doorstep.

Meta-mod THIS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6720931)

I don't want to meta-mod any more!
Give me regular mod points!

bastards! (-1, Offtopic)

gooru (592512) | more than 11 years ago | (#6720935)

In related news, the bastards at Sprint overcharged me again .

How long will this last? (5, Insightful)

tynman (544474) | more than 11 years ago | (#6720937)

What makes me ill about the FCC allowing them to charge for this is that we're still going to be paying that $1 "number portability fee" 20 years down the road when all the carriers have long since paid off the expenses of "upgrading" their networks. Does anyone know if there's a date set for when they can't stop milking us on this anymore???

Re:How long will this last? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6720997)

> Does anyone know if there's a date set for when they can't stop milking us on this anymore???

Hello and welcome to our beaurocratic, capitalist society where greed is everything and the only fear is of not being able to satisfy one's greed.

Are you enjoying your stay, Sir?

Re:How long will this last? (0)

mrpuffypants (444598) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721012)

According to Terminator 3 that would be Judgement Day.

Re:How long will this last? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6721036)

Well given that in America you must still pay a fee to have touch-tone dialing, 20 years after it was first introduced I'd say that the evidence indicates you'll all still be paying your number portability fee in 20 years time, too.

Re:How long will this last? (3, Funny)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721228)

You're joking right? Does anybody even own a pulse-dial phone? What is it with the US telco industry - it seems to lag behind the rest of the world so much.

Re:How long will this last? (1)

kruczkowski (160872) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721354)

Your are right. That's why I'm moving back to Europe!

Re:How long will this last? (1)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721435)

As recently as four years ago, I went with pulse dialing - as a student, I didn't see the point in paying a couple bucks extra a month for something of so little marginal value. The only difference I see that it makes is that you can navigate through IVR applications instead of talking to a customer service drone. Yippee....

Re:How long will this last? (1)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721457)

Isn't pulse dialling much slower? You have to wait for the pulses, especially annoying if you're redialling someone. I'm pretty sure I've used customer service lines that assume you have a touch tone phone

Re:How long will this last? (5, Funny)

bogasity (517035) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721462)

My parents still have pulse dialing precisely because the phone companies charge for tone dialing. The way my Dad sees it, he's probably forcing the phone company to maintain an ancient switch just to support him, so they are losing money by not giving him the tone dialing for free.

Breaking News (5, Insightful)

thebatlab (468898) | more than 11 years ago | (#6720938)

This just in....companies out to make a profit!! :)

Ok, seriously, this feels like just another article to get everyone all riled up over "the man". Yes, it seems outrageous what companies like Sprint and NextTel are charging. Does this mean that they aren't just trying to cover their costs and possible pot a bit of profit off of a new service offered to customers? Ok, maybe it seems like they want to make an excessive profit. Don't like it? Well, it looks like the gov't already has a watchful eye on them (if that's any comfort ;)) and is ready to impose regulations if they really get carried away.

Everything a company does can't be done just at cost. A company needs to make a profit to be able to fully survive. It looks like Verizon is able to recoup these costs thanks to existing reserves or they are willing to take the hit for increased customer satisfaction which is great to see. It's so great to see that if I was in the States, I would probably switch over to Verizon as soon as my contract with one of those other companies was up (or sooner!).

Re:Breaking News (1)

gdarklighter (666840) | more than 11 years ago | (#6720984)

A company needs to make a profit to be able to fully survive.

Actually, in perfect competition in the long run, a company will make zero economic profits. For those of you who haven't taken an economics class recently, that means that the company's total revenue is exactly equal to its total cost.

Re:Breaking News (1)

thebatlab (468898) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721002)

True enough but when I mention survival, I'm talking of times when the company makes no revenue. If they had been running at an equilibrium until that time they'll obviously lose some money. Money that is not there. If you had made a profit previously, you have some cushion to protect yourself around these times.

Maybe I'm being short-sighted on something here. And I don't take "get a loan during bad times" as a final answer :)

It's very hard (4, Insightful)

toddhunter (659837) | more than 11 years ago | (#6720940)

To be terribly surprised by anything like this. Just wait until the portability measures are implemented and forgotton too. Don't be surprised if the charges are still there, especially since they are effectively 'hidden' from view.

Don't forget... (-1)

SCO$699FeeTroll (695565) | more than 11 years ago | (#6720949)

...to pay your $699 licensing fee you cock-smoking surrender-monkeys.

Side effects (5, Informative)

Advocadus Diaboli (323784) | more than 11 years ago | (#6720956)

I live in Germany where we have that feature for some while. One problem now is that I call a number that "belongs" to the same provider that I'm using, so I think that I do a call inside the providers net (which usually is cheap), but in fact the one that I call has switched to another provider and my call costs much more than I expect. :-(

Re:Side effects (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6720985)

Look, not all of us can collect the 'Kill a Jew, Collect $5" tax. Therefore, we must look in other places for money. Thanks for your comment though. In the meantime, please kill yourself.

Re:Side effects (5, Interesting)

ThaReetLad (538112) | more than 11 years ago | (#6720999)

Here in the UK number porting takes a couple of weeks with no paper work and no fee. The competition between networks is so intense that the mobile telcos are desperate to make it easy for people to change from one network to the other.

Two weeks? Try three days... (1)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721174)

That's how long it took me when I ported my pay-as-you-go (ie, no fixed monthly fee) phone from one provider to another last year.

Re:Two weeks? Try three days... (1)

ThaReetLad (538112) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721190)

OK it depends upon the supplier to some extent, and also on what type of contract you have. IFAIK the law (or oftel) says that a port must happen within 2 weeks of a request. I switched from Orange to 3 recently. I went into a store and bought a new 3g phone and then called Orange for a PAC (porting authority code) which I then gave to 3. A week or so later the port was completed and my Orange contract automatically terminated. All done, all easy, all free.

Re:Side effects (3, Interesting)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721026)

The problem of inter-network call costs isn't going to go away, but I fail to understand why the US telcos are fighting so hard about this. Here in Australia, all of the services offer number portability (no questions asked, in fact it's assumed that you want it) without the need for time-consuming credit checks and so on. When I changed from my last provider to Vodafone, the SIM they gave me was active within 30 minutes of walking out of the shop. That's how long it took Vodafone to clear details with the earlier service and get everything working.

And I don't have to sign up for plans that commit me to spending $[some_large_number] per month; just a flat rate per 30 seconds.

Side effects-Nailing customers to a tree. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6721119)

You answered your own question. In a nutshell Cellular companies don't want to make it easy for you to move to the competition. Can't take your number with you? Have to buy a new phone, because the perfectly good one you have will not work on our network (they'll carry your signal while your roaming though). Gotta get a new contract if you want to do this or that. Charge this, charge that. Drag feet.

Re:Side effects-Nailing customers to a tree. (2, Insightful)

grahamm (8844) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721208)

It works both ways. While they do not want existing customers to port to another provider, I am sure that they would like other providers customers to port to them.

Re:Side effects (4, Interesting)

arivanov (12034) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721038)

Well,

Complain to your regulator and your competition authority. At least in Germany they have some serious teeth.

There is no technical reason whatsoever for the operators not to use ISDN call divert (or the equivalent mapping for this service in SS7 terms) as a mechanism for transfering the call to the new destination. In this case the only time when the call travels to the premises of the old operator is when it is set up. The actual voice (or data) should go directly to the new destination. There is no reason to charge you for the call set up only as for an entire call and there is no reason to route the call through the old operator network.

The fact that the phone operators in Europe do not use this on purpose (it has been in GSM since 1997) is already a part of an investigation by the European comission. More specifically, it is the investigation on unfair roaming charges.

So you are in you right to b*** and should do so. As a result of enough people b*** we may sooner or later get decent roaming charges for roaming mobile to roaming mobile calls so it may be a good idea to be persistent in this.

Re:Side effects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6721335)

> So you are in you right to b***

Ball? Bake? Bath? I don't get it.

Re:Side effects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6721367)

At least in Germany they have some serious teeth.

I've heard that before somewhere... can't place my finger on... oh yeah.

Number portability my ass... (5, Informative)

silentbozo (542534) | more than 11 years ago | (#6720962)

Verizon has been collecting "number portability fund" fees on my land-line for years. Can I migrate my number to another carrier? Hell no! Can I get my fees waived/refunded? Sorry, but those funds go into a common pool to provide number portability. But I can't move MY number! Sorry, but your number is in an area where number portability is not offered...

The only way to win this game is not to play - I canceled my second line earlier this year. Take that Verizon!

Monthly fee? Strange ... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6720963)

... here in the Netherlands you only pay about 20 Euro *once* for the number portation to your new GSM provider.

Re:Monthly fee? Strange ... (1)

ctr2sprt (574731) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721126)

Why is it strange? The theory is that consumers will more easily accept small, periodic charges than large, one-time charges, even if they work out to the same total in the end. It's the same theory behind micropayments, but because you're already paying a (much larger) phone bill the fee is even less likely to be noticed. And it needn't result in consumers being screwed, as long as the fee is limited in duration (which at least two companies are saying).

Re:Monthly fee? Strange ... (1)

Rovaani (20023) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721239)

Here in Finland the fee is 10 Euros, also once.
None of the providers actually charge that because they want the new customers.

Important Question (4, Interesting)

Go Aptran (634129) | more than 11 years ago | (#6720973)

There's an administrative fee to cover costs of maintaining the transfered phone number.... but will my cell phone company charge me an extra fee to take my number with me when I leave it after November?

Re:Important Question (1)

Fred IV (587429) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721369)

That will probably depend on the company you're leaving. There was a blurb in the news last week about some carriers Trying to put obstacles in the way of leaving customers [washingtonpost.com] .

So maybe they charge you a fee, maybe they tell you that you can't transfer out until you pay an early termination fee, maybe they tell you you can't transfer out until you pay them a disputed amount on your bill, or until you pay your last bill in full, etc, etc

This kind of makes sense since the company wants you to stay. Sad that some might try to strong-arm you into it. At least not every carrier is planning to make this a business practice.

so what you're saying is... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6720981)

1) cell phone number portability
2) profit!

Re:so what you're saying is... (3, Funny)

Gherald (682277) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721010)

> 1) cell phone number portability
> 2) profit!


No "???" step?

Amazing!

Re:so what you're saying is... (3, Informative)

deathcow (455995) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721125)

YES thats almost right, but you just need to make step 1 be step 2, and add the following step 1:

1a) switch engineers: implement SS7/SCP related stuff
1b) switch engineers: implement telephony switch related stuff
1c) developers: implement SCP/SS7 related provisioning methods,test
1d) developers: implement telephony switch related provisioning methods, test
1e) developers: implement API for telephony network portability
1f) developers: implement portability front end for customer service apps
1g) developers: test top to bottom, front end, middleware (like metasolv), through API
1h) developers: document for users/trainers
1i) trainers: train cust svc reps on applying portability
1j) cust service reps: apply portability !

2) cell number portability

3) profit!

Re:so what you're saying is... (1)

Chatterton (228704) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721200)

MOD it as Insightful, not Funny.

Re:so what you're saying is... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6721132)

Actually, it's

1) don't actually offer cell phone number portability
2) charge for it
3) profit!

portability in oz (5, Informative)

narkotix (576944) | more than 11 years ago | (#6720982)

In australia there was a big thing about the largest carrier preventing number porting. Our consumer watchdog (ACCC) got onto the case and made things start to happen which was good for us consumers!
Here is a report [aca.gov.au] detailing what the ACCC requested from the ACA (australian communications authority) to look into number porting for australian carriers.

Re:portability in oz (1)

narkotix (576944) | more than 11 years ago | (#6720988)

I also forgot to mention the fact [aca.gov.au] sheet as well!

Free portability prevents anti-competitive telcos (1)

Quizo69 (659678) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721466)

Just to summarise, in Australia the ACCC (consumer competition watchdog) mandated that number portability be free, since by forcing people to pay to keep their old number they were effectively impeding businesses that relied on their number being well known to conduct their business, thereby reducing competition because customers were less likely to change carriers as a result.

So now, if I want to change to a better provider here in Australia, it won't cost me anything to keep my old number.

Ironically, I remain with my current provider (Optus) because they still provide the best package for my requirements. So telcos only need fear number portability if their services are inferior to that of the opposition (hence the largest telco, Telstra, fighting it all the way until forced).

Quizo69

Netherlands (5, Informative)

Captain_Chaos (103843) | more than 11 years ago | (#6720993)

Here in the Netherlands cell phone providers have been forced to let customers keep their existing phone numbers from competitors for a few years now. They don't charge extra for it (I don't think they're allowed, the mobile phone business is very strictly regulated over here), but they do have a tendency to take much longer to port your number than they should. I think it works moderately well, prices aren't exactly low but I think they'd be signigicantly higher without mandatory number portability.

It is piss poor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6721061)

"ut they do have a tendency to take much longer to port your number than they should."

When I switched from ETN to OneTel it took almost 4 months to move my number.

Verizon (4, Informative)

heli0 (659560) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721013)

"Verizon says it has not yet decided whether to levy a number portability fee."
http://news.com.com/2117-1039-1020501.html [com.com]
Verizon Wireless Chief Executive Denny Strigl said Tuesday that unlike rivals, Verizon won't collect monthly or one-time fees from subscribers who want to keep their original telephone number after switching carriers.
Has Verizon wavered in their stance in the past two months, or are they just trying to leave themselves some wriggle room?

Re:Verizon (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6721042)

I use Verizon, and they kick serious ass. They have one of the best coverage areas and the people *I* deal with are all extremely helpful and very polite. There isn't a problem I've run across that they haven't fixed within about 5 minutes of me calling them (that doesn't count the dead spot I hit whenever I pass one of the 3 military bases that are nearby).

Re:Verizon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6721380)

They think they have more to gain from LNP than they have to lose. Loser companies will fight tooth-and-nail, afraid of their customers fleeing from them.

yes... this will generate profit (not via fees) (1)

menn0nite (699138) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721022)

The general consensus seems to be that this is a ploy by the telecom industry to get more money. This will definitly happen, but we will probably see a more idelistic rift develope between the major carriers as the scramble to capitalize. method 1: Yes, this change will get us more money. The easier and less inconvinient it is for customers to switch providers, the more customers will abandon their current provider and come our way. Based on that we are willing to eat the (trivial) cost of implementing such a thing (and we'll even lobby the FCC to push it through)... (carriers that have expressed this sentiment: verizon wireless, others?) method 2: This will cost us in the long run, the easier/less inconvinient it is for customers to leave us, the more customers will leave us. Based on this we will fight this proposed standard via lawsuite and lobby. If this standard IS pushed through, we will ensure we are able to levy fees however we see fit, as to recoup our losses (mostly, the loss of business, not the cost of implementing the change) (carriers expressing this sentiment: Sprint, Nextel, others?) method 1, has seemed to take a self-riteous consumer advocate aproch. Claiming to absorb all costs because they are fight for the just and equitable. (insert wanking motions here) method 2, has seemed to take a passive aproch, believing that this is inevitable in the long run, and their best option is to bargin as many rights as possible... Rights method 2 wishes to retain: don't pay your outstanding ballance/early disconnect fee? don't get your number transfered. it will stay in limbo until you pay up. pay a monthly number portability fee. (this is nothing new) pay a fee for transfering your number to your new carrier (this is nothing new) be required to have your "i want to quit" call routed through a special disconnects/transfers office... subject to office ours (2am-5am EST anyone)? and of course, the ever presant ultra-long hold time... all in all, it'll be interesting to see how long the riteous stick to their guns, and don't rebuke on all the great things they've promised, and also how much the opposition gets in exchange for the introduciton of number portability.

How to take care of portability (4, Funny)

ratfynk (456467) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721037)

I was thinking of changing carriers because my (Telus) plan was a real ripoff. Then I went saltwater flyfishing and forgot that my cell phone was in my coat pocket. It solved the problem. I have found that if my voice mail, e-mail and pager will not suffice for the caller then the person calling was not worth talking to anyway. I always return calls from real people and finally realised that the ones that are desperate to get something for nothing in a hurry use the cell to call you. If it is that important people will get through. Cell phones for some people are a huge waste of money. They were for me. The next time I think about getting a cell I will just go fishing instead!

Re:Fastfood conversations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6721215)

Let's not forget that the typical cell phone conversation goes like this:

"Hi, it's me! Where are you?"

"I'm saltwater flyfishing. Where are you?"

"I'm in the car on the way home -- oops, hold on, I have another call."

Yawn. If you don't have time for a real conversation, chances are you won't have one, least of all on a cell phone while on a boat, in a car, or in a public place like a supermarket where you're annoying everyone around you anyway. CEOs of major corporations excluded, of course.

How soon will we run out of phone numbers again? (4, Insightful)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721040)

Ok, number portability... this is cool... I have to say keeping your old number when switching carriers, this is just spiffy. Paying a fee for it... well might as well, you are nickled and dimed on this issue anyway... not a big thing.

I live in the States, while I mobile use isn't quite up there with the rest of the world, we already have had create quite a few extra area codes. That pesky issue of running out of seven digit phone numbers.

What I want is a system where by you actually keep your freaking landline number, and dial a diffrent prefix to hit the users mobile or fax/data device.

Now that would be what I call real number portability!

Re:How soon will we run out of phone numbers again (2, Interesting)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721123)

Why not just have your land line call forward to your cell phone, and tell people to call your land line number? You can switch the # you're forwarding to whenever you get a different cell.

Re:How soon will we run out of phone numbers again (1)

hazem (472289) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721207)

I did this with my phone as well... but it took a few calls to get it going. Basically, my home phone rings 4 times, then rolls over to my cell, or if my home phone is busy, it automatically rolls. That way I get the "free" voice mail and caller-ID of my cellphone.

The services you need are:
call-forward no-answer
call-forward busy

A few technicians I called did not know about these, but once I finally found one who did, it was great!

Re:How soon will we run out of phone numbers again (4, Informative)

Asmodai (13932) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721124)

In the Netherlands we already have had that system in place for years.

Our normal land lines have prefixes for the major cities, such as:

Rotterdam - 010
Amsterdam - 020
Utrecht - 030

GSM, buzzers/pagers, and such were using 06 prefixes. Sexlines and info numbers with costs per minute/conversation are 0900 (used to be 06 as well), and free informational phonenumbers (toll-free) are 0800.

Number portability for mobile phone numbers has been regulated in the Netherlands for a while now due to OPTA. If a provider has its services down for a certain percentage in a month the OPTA will fine the appropriate provider.

Re:How soon will we run out of phone numbers again (2, Funny)

Lectrik (180902) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721271)

I love my cell number, very easy to remember pattern ( xyx y[x-1][y-1]0 ) and I'd love to move it over to Nextel. Since my employer is the main source of phone traffic to my cell, I can get added to the company plan if I have a NexTel phone.

I'd also like to get a slightly larger phone. My current one is too small for my hands.

The moral of the story, never let your S.O. pick out something as personal as your cell phone.

Off on a tangent as usual

Adding fees while fighting implementation? (2, Insightful)

phalse phace (454635) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721121)

Sounds like they're up to their dirty [becomethemedia.com] old tricks [slashdot.org] again. But then again, what are we to expect?

Re:Adding fees while fighting implementation? (1)

nordicfrost (118437) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721409)

Sounds like they're up to their dirty old tricks again. But then again, what are we to expect?


What you need is some proper goverment action. The Norwegian goverment put its foot down when the telecomms wanted to regulate number porting themselves. The Gov said that "portability is to be free (as in beer) for the customers and easy to do. And don't try to fuck them over by doing something funny, we know that GSM portability is not complicated like brain surgery". Well, the last part was understated. Now the goverment is a neutral observer in the market and reporting the prices as they get them (Each operator has to disclose all their prices to the Norwegian FCC). The result: A much more liberated price enviroment and many small operators competing hard. Steep reduction on mobile phone prices and increase in quality.

See; goverment isn't always bad.

Experiences in Norway (3, Informative)

nordicfrost (118437) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721127)

We have this feature in our system, and it has been there for some time now. The number porting system was a real boon to the smaller price-competing phone operators who previously had problem attracting customers. One of the companies, the price and service leader, has gone from 800 subscribers to well over 100 000 in just a year. I'm switching to them, so is my friends, mom, dad, girlfriend and her family. Left is the former state monopoloy, Telenor, which is hemmoraging customers.


With number portability in a free market, the greedy actors are exposed really fast.


There is also no fee for porting here, the only fee is an optional (for the company) connection fee. The very notion of having a fee is absurd in a GSM system, remember; it is made for quick portability. Porting your subscription is done in one step: Tell your new operator that you are switching to them and be sure to mention the phone # while you're at it. Done. The new SIM card arrives after a while and the porting date comes via email. Or snailmail if you want it to.

Re:Experiences in Norway (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721162)

same in Finland. after 25th of july this year(law).

except that you get the sim card usually straight from the desk and it will activate in few days time(you will get an sms on the old card that says that you should switch the new card in).

i think it's a great service, after having the same number for 5-10 years it really makes it hard for people to change.

having to pay monthly for such option would be totally absurd though.

and what are the normla gsm prices here? the one i switched to is 0.17e per minute(any 'normal' call to any operator in finland), 3.33e monthly fee and 19.90e for 100mb of monthly transfer(irc, slashdot & others on my 3650 don't take even half of that monthly).

Re:Experiences in Norway (2, Informative)

dillkvast (657246) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721209)

It should also be mentioned that the Norwegian "FCC" set up a website were customers can compare prices. You just enter in how much you call, approximatly when and how many SMS's you use per month, and you get a list of the providers which is cheapest.

This, together with number portability, has really benefitted the cutomers. It should be an example for other contries to follow. It's actually a bit shocking to see the government doing something right for a change. Especially something so "technical" as regulating telecom.

Re:Experiences in Norway (1)

nordicfrost (118437) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721387)

Yes, and the link is here: Telepriser.no [telepriser.no]


Understanably, the site is in Norwegian, but if you peak around, the concept is probably clear to you. And interesting. Looking at the figures, I'm in for a 200 NOK (approx. 30 USD) save each month by switching from Telenor.


Telepriser.no and the national opt-out list for telemarketers is probably the things US Slashdotters could learn the most from us. The deregulation of the power grid is probably just as fucked as in California.

lets just use.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6721136)

social security numbers for our cell phone numbers.

then we can get rid of this stupid way of stealing peoples' identitys.

Not against profits, against OBSCENE profits (2, Insightful)

release7 (545012) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721141)

Gotta love it. When you try to balance the playing field and have genuine, open competition by allowing number portability, the corporations can find a loophole to slant it in their favor. And once again we see that the embracing of deregulation by corporations is merely a ruse to get government off their backs so they can make obscene profits from customers.

I'm all for capitalism. However, it works best when there is a somewhat equal distribution of wealth. If corporations are permitted to squeeze every last dime from consumers and workers pockets, we will soon find our economy in shambles.

The regulatory pendulum has swung to far in one direction. It's time to put the regulatory squeeze back on corporations. We must ensure that, instead of leeching off our economic engine, corporations contribute to it in a healthy, productive way.

Re:Not against profits, against OBSCENE profits (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6721389)

I'm all for capitalism. However, it works best when there is a somewhat equal distribution of wealth.

I'm all for being a vegetarian. However, it works best when meat is eaten once a day.

Re:Not against profits, against OBSCENE profits (2, Insightful)

lyonsden (543685) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721407)

But that's the amazing thing about the free market.

Some provider will get the bright idea that they can entice customers to switch to them because the offer "number portability at no extra charge". Thus Provider A gains customers and Providers B-Z have to figure out how to keep up or go out of business.

who needs a phone anyway (1, Interesting)

wintered (75625) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721147)

As someone who has still resisted the urge to buy a mobile phone and thus pump an additional $100AU a month into the telecommunication system while spending large portions of my day typing text messages to someone who people who don't want to read with a keypad that is designed to be operated by a lemming, I'm probably not the best person to comment on this story, however . . .

Whats the deal with the keeping the phone number the same for your whole life! (well until we are all electronically tagged at birth in which case you dont have a choice). I like moving house, because it means I get to choose who has my number. It weeds out all those people (work bosses, annoying friends, marketing, etc) that someone managed to get hold of your phone number can no longer bug you.

Look at changing your phone number as exercising your right to privacy!

Sptint charges this fee already (5, Interesting)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721177)

I pay $2.20 on my bill for "number portability."

I called to let them know that I am dropping them for another carrier at the end of this month, and that I planned on taking my number with me...

They said, and this was a real gas, "We don't offer that service. You'll have to give up your phone numbers if you leave Sprint."

"But you're charging me for number portability!"

"I'm sorry, sir, but you won't be able to keep your numbers"

"Then why are you charging me for number portability"

"Sir, Federal regulations require that we charge the number portability fee"

"..."

I couldn't believe my ears..

Anyone else with Sprint heard the same story? I think that charging a fee for a service one can't utilize comes down to, oh I dunno, fraud...

Re:Sptint charges this fee already (1)

stiggle (649614) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721312)

They cannot charge for services not offered.
If you are being billed for a service they do not offer, then demand a full refund (plus interest and inconvenience) or the service as billed.

Next thing you know - you'll be finding a charge for the Anti-Rhino device the phone comes with.
Well - have you seen any Rhinos in NYC?

Re:Sptint charges this fee already (3, Funny)

fuzzybunny (112938) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721322)


Well - have you seen any Rhinos in NYC?

Of course. What do you think caused that damn power outage?
Next thing you know - you'll be finding a charge for the Anti-Rhino device the phone comes with.

I already am. How do you think we fixed the blackout?

Sprint customer service believes the world is flat (2, Interesting)

mcwop (31034) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721465)

The bigger question is how you ever got to talk to a person?

Cmdr. Taco Tried To Suck My Cock! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6721179)

He said he wanted it up his brown-eye first.

Welcome to the UK... (3, Funny)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721240)


We've had portable numbers for years... and most of the US mobile companies are Europe based and work in the UK, T-Mobile, Vodaphone etc. So the quick summary is...

1) We've done it in the UK (and the rest of Europe)

2) European companies dominate the carrier networks

3) We're just doing it to piss you off.

A Big Game.... (2, Insightful)

TygerFish (176957) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721319)

It's all a game really. Living under pure capitalism is an attempt to make life as much of an adventure as possible and it produces some odd statements, none of them odder than the some of the ones generated by using a cell phone cellular.


The ellipses of cellular usage are bizarre things, from: 'The fact that American companies and ONLY American companies charge both the person who placed the call AND the person receiving it doesn't make us BOTH suckers,' to 'technological fashion demands that I pay a lot of money so my boss can reach me while I'm making love.'


Yes, the inner game of cellular use is a strange one and you've got to play it as smartly as possible on your end because you are an amateur while the people working for the multibillion-dollar corporations whose whole reason for existing is to replace the payphone are trained professionals who think of ways of rogering their customers on overtime.


So where does this leave you when it comes to number portability?


Stay flexible. As the poster from Finland pointed out, where he is, number portability lead to companies making big efforts to keep customers from switching to other companies. Something like that *might* happen here--you can certainly imagine that entering the mix when the legislation is enacted--but it is just as likely that the same class of businessmen who brought you the eternal copyright will certainly use the fees the law grants to hide another fifty-cents on your bill every month while kicking and screaming to avoid giving you a choice. Why would anyone expect them to do otherwise? There's no downside for them.


Your part of the game as a customer is to maintain all the flexibility, and the best bargaining position you can in dealing with them. Look at it this way. As things are now, switching out of a new contract with a provider already means, handing a company that has proven its lack of worth a stack of bills so you can own a dead cell phone.


Cellular providers hold all the psychological cards against switching so it's your job to find the company that combines the strongest mix of features with the strongest motivation for keeping you. If that means paying ten dollars a month so you can plan-hop when they offer something better than what you have, or jump ship if someone else outbids them, so be it.


Making the right decision can surprise you: I use a phone from one of the smaller fish in the big game and during the recent blackout, my web service functioned for a while even after my voice service didn't, and I ended lending my phone to several people whose service only came back hours later.


I think the best way of thinking about ones relationship with cellular providers is to think of it as friendly warfare. :D

Charge the company receiving the customer (3, Informative)

kimmop (121096) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721324)

In Finland, the company that loses a customer, can charge the porting fees from the telco that receives the number. The standard fee is negotiated beforehand between the telcos and no company dares to (directly) charge the fee from the customer they are about to receive.

This way the telcos can't rise and obscure the prices by claiming it's because of the number portability.

Difference between Europe and US (3, Interesting)

SenseiLeNoir (699164) | more than 11 years ago | (#6721403)

againt this shows the difference between Europe and the USA. I live in the UK, and number portablity is painless, free, and well organised to the point that people dont even think tiwice about it. Although oftel says 2 weeks at max to transfer, it usually happens within days. cellphoen operators cannot refuse to do it.

more importantly, thanks to the strict regultations, number portability gives an EXTREME amount of power to the users.

For example, if I ever feel that TMobile (my provider) is not performing as well as i expect, i simply threaten to ask for my PAC number (a number provided to port your number) and its suprising how far they will bend back to help you :) especially with me being a good revenue costomer for them! :)
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