When it comes to wanting to switch cell phone carriers, people generally do it for one of two reasons. The first is probably obvious; it’s cost. The second driving force behind customers who switch is the coverage they get (or don’t). However, many customers never make the plunge and switch because of fears that it will be too difficult and take a lot of time and patience.
Most customers are pretty happy when they first sign up for a cell phone plan, but over time, that contentment fades. In the beginning, service seems fast, the coverage great, and the price reasonable. After a while, things start changing. Prices may rise, coverage may be less dependable, and the service has slowed. Instead of making a switch, many people will just stick with what they have rather than face the process, but it’s not nearly as hard to switch carriers as some believe. Before switching, make sure you compare cell phone plans to find the best plan on a carrier that fits your needs.
The following information will help cell phone customers everywhere discover how straightforward switching service truly is so that they can have the prices they want with the coverage they need.
Transferring the Old Number
This is a major reason people hedge on whether or not to switch service; they believe it’s necessary to give up their old number and take a new one, which results in the headache of trying to make sure all personal and business acquaintances know how to reach them.
The truth is that the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) requires every wireless carrier to grant customers Wireless LNP (Local Number Portability) which means as long as a number is local, a new carrier has to port it. The only exception is when the number won’t be staying local, as in a relocation from one area code to another.
Phone Number Porting Regulations
There are rules of code when it comes to carriers porting a customer's phone number. For one thing, a carrier is in no way obligated to accept a customer’s number, but in practice, it rarely happens that they wouldn't accept it. That’s because most carriers would prefer to port a number if it means they gain a new customer, but this may not be true if a customer has a prepaid carrier.
A port request can only be completed by the person who is the main account holder. For anyone who is an authorized user or for families that have multiple people sharing a plan, a port request can only be filled out after separate service is obtained. However, this may not work in cases where a person has a company cell phone that is in the company’s name.
Finally, a number may be ported even when current service has a balance due. After the number is transferred to the new carrier, the patron is still responsible to pay any fees or outstanding bills that are due to the previous carrier. For customers who are under a binding contract, some carriers will pro-rate termination fees, but it various from company to company.
What Numbers Can be Ported
When it comes to porting numbers to a new carrier, here are the basic guidelines:
Cell phone numbers may be ported. Prepaid numbers must be actively in service at the time of transfer. Fax numbers and landlines may also be ported.
Pager and 800 numbers are not eligible for porting, so for these types of numbers, customers will have to get a new one if they switch carriers.
No number can be ported to an already-established account; to transfer a new number, a customer must open a new account.
The Process of Switching
Although the process of transferring to a new carrier doesn't happen with the flip of a switch, it’s fairly simple and doesn't take long since it’s now a common practice. To switch a phone number to a new service provider, there are some basic guidelines to follow that will make the experience smooth and streamlined.
First off, a customer should never stop service with their previous carrier until a new account has been established with their existing number. If service is cancelled before this, the old number will be lost and the carrier will be unable to port it.
After a new company has been chosen along with an appropriate plan and cell phone, a customer should contact the new carrier to start the process. Generally, a carrier will request certain items from the customer such as name, address and billing information from the current provider. Then the new carrier will port the number before the old service is cancelled.
If a customer prefers to keep their current device, the carrier will likely also ask for the phone’s ESN/IMEI number. This can be found somewhere on the back of the phone or in the battery case. If the phone doesn't work when it’s set up with the new carrier, it may be necessary to purchase a new one.
When the new account is established and service is set up, the old service will be cancelled by default, but it’s better to take the safe approach and call the former carrier to make sure service is stopped. Fees may also be negotiated at this time, and a closing bill is usually sent within a period of 30 days.
The new service provider will contact the previous one to begin the necessary steps for porting the existing phone number. At this point, there’s nothing more for the customer to do but wait until the process is complete and service begins. That’s how easy it is to switch providers.
In summary, switching carriers is simple. A customer just needs to sign up for a new account and let the company take care of the process from start to finish. Since service providers are in constant competition, they’re regularly looking for ways to get others to jump ship for their brand. That means they’ll be eager to make the process as smooth as possible for potential customers as well as readily answer any questions that come up. With so many great data plans and choices of phones available, it’s easy for disgruntled customers to find a new carrier and get set up with ease while keeping their old phone number. And if a customer can afford to purchase a new phone when switching, service is likely to be even better since technology is constantly improving.
Phone Use While Porting
While a customer is in the process of having their phone ported to a new carrier, calls may still be made from the old phone, but will only come in to the new one.
Switching With Prepaid Plans
When it comes to switching a prepaid phone number to a new carrier, the company will ask for the phone number being ported along with the account number and the password (or PIN). In addition, they may request the user’s name and billing address. If the account holder doesn't have that information, the current carrier can be contacted.
The Cost of Porting
Although carriers are allowed to charge customers to port a phone number, they generally don’t. Because of the competitive nature of the industry, carriers will usually transfer customers for free in order to obtain their business, but it’s a good idea to check. If there is a charge, the customer may request to have it waived as part of the switch.
Final Tips for Switching
To make the process of going with a new carrier as easy as possible, customers should take the time to compare plans, prices and phone models. It’s also a good idea to look at a coverage map to ensure that good service is available. In addition, customers will want to make sure that their current phone (if not buying a new one) is compatible and that they’ve checked their voicemail on their old phone while service is still active.
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