Local News

New Legislation Allows Phone Users To Switch Companies But Keep Number

Posted October 9, 2003 4:58 a.m. EDT

— New rules will allow you to switch your cellular telephone provider, but keep the same phone number. The federal legislation, which goes into effect on Nov. 24, may affect you as a consumer.

Jay Izso, a realty broker, is part of a business where he cannot afford to change his number.

"I don't know how to do business without a cell phone," he said. "It's so expensive to change all that information," he said.

Phil Denning, who sells cell phones, said many people did not want to change their company even if they were unhappy with what they had. He said customers will have more choices for less money.

"I think the providers are going to come out with a whole lot more as far as to entice you to stay as a customer," he said.

However, critics said there is a possible drawback to the new legislation. Customers may have to sign up for longer contracts.

"[Companies may] keep the customers locked in for as long as they possibly can," Denning said.

However, Iszo feels attached to his number, not the contract or the company.

"It certainly opens the possibilities up to say, 'OK, I can get a better deal with more minutes or for less money or a larger package,'" he said.

Several cellular telephone companies took this case to court, claiming it would cost them $1 billion to enact the new rule, but their appeals were denied. The federal legislation goes into effect on Nov. 24. The Federal Communication Commission estimates six million users could switch companies in the first month.