Cellular providers: Number portability going smoothly

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 5, 2004

NATCHEZ &045;&045; Two weeks into the wireless industry’s latest innovation, things are running smoothly.

Number portability came to south Mississippi May 24, allowing cell phone users to switch cell companies and take their numbers with them.

&uot;We’ve had overwhelming response,&uot; Cellular South Area Manager Shane Tuttle said. &uot;We’ve had very favorable results.&uot;

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Number portability was introduced in 100 big city markets in November before going nationwide. The November launch allowed providers to learn from their mistakes and work out the kinks, Tuttle said.

&uot;In November there were some long waiting periods,&uot; he said. &uot;But the industry has gotten a good grasp on it. Since May 24, we have not experienced anything out of the ordinary.&uot;

John LeBoeuf, Centennial Wireless southwest region vice president, said things were running smoothly, but he had not seen a huge rush to take advantage of the service.

&uot;I don’t know that there is that much change in customer behavior,&uot; LeBoeuf said. &uot;I don’t think we’ve had an increase in people either coming to us or leaving. Experts thought there was pent up demand of those who wanted to jump ship, but we haven’t seen any of that.&uot;

LeBoeuf said the wireless-to-wireless switch takes an average of 15 minutes at Centennial.

Numbers can only be switched within the local area code. A Jackson number cannot be switched to Natchez.

The technology also allows landline numbers to be transferred to wireless numbers. Tuttle said currently about 14 percent of consumers nationwide use wireless phones as their primary phones. Projections expect that number to climb to 30 percent by 2008. Landline-to-wireless transfers can be more complicated.