Monday, December 08, 2003

Beating The (Cell Phone) Numbers

About a month ago, I surveyed the various wireless carriers. You see, I knew that number portability was coming on 11/24, and I intended to be ready.

After checking around, I found that T-Mobile offered more minutes at half the cost of AT&T Wireless (my old carrier). As a bonus, while AT&T's coverage is generally better than T-Mobile's, T-Mobile actually worked within my house (I had signed up with AT&T before I moved into my house...and of course I didn't want to give up my phone number).

On November 24, I signed up for T-Mobile and applied to have my number ported. I was told that the port would occur within 4-48 hours. Until then, I'd have to carry around two cell phones--my AT&T phone, and my T-Mobile phone. I figured, what the hey, it's just for one, two days, tops.

A week later, the switch still hadn't happened. And I wasn't alone!

Fortunately, the FCC demanded that AT&T explain their problems by 12/10. Oddly enough, today, my switchover finally happened.

The moral of the story is that you can't fight consumer choice. More are more, companies will have to count on better service, rather than proprietary lock-in, to retain their customers. This is a lesson that AT&T Wireless will soon learn, much to its regret.

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