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What should your customers expect when they're porting a phone number from one carrier to another?
It will depend on a particular carrier's capabilities, said analyst Albert Lin of American Technology Research.
Once a wireless phone is programmed with a number from a land-line phone or from another wireless phone, Lin said, it's possible that both the old and new phones will be out of service until the porting process is completed. During that time, neither phone would ring. And neither phone could make an outgoing call. The porting process could last up to 2.5 hours for wireless-to-wireless porting and potentially up to four days for landline-to-wireless porting (see story, p.38).
However, carriers are striving to offer limited service during the wireless-to-wireless porting period, Lin said. In this scenario, neither phone would ring during the porting period, but consumers would be able to make outgoing calls, including 911 calls, on their old phone. They wouldn't be able to make outgoing calls on the new phone.
Also during the porting period, incoming calls to the old phone would be diverted to voice mail. After the porting period is over, the voice mail could be retrieved on the new phone.
"Most carriers think this is the cleanest way to do it from a liability standpoint," said Lin, who based his information on conversations with carriers' engineers and business-development executives.
Another issue is a potential limitation on 911 service during the land line-to-wireless porting interval. If a ported customer dials 911 on a wireless phone and the call is dropped before the port is complete, CTIA explained, the 911 agency will try to call back the wireless. The call, however, will ring the user's land-line phone, not the cellphone, if the address hasn't yet been deleted by the land-line carrier.
If no one answers, emergency officials will dispatch an emergency vehicle to the address of the land-line phone CTIA explained. "CTIA will continue to advocate for a reduced wireless-to-wireless porting interval," the spokesman said.
Whatever the interval, the FCC's wireless telecommunications bureau urged carriers to explain the limitation to consumers at the point of sale.
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