It's usually touted as a consumer benefit, but there's a whopping effect on businesses. wireless number portability could carve 20% to 35% off your organization's existing cellular service costs - starting as early as next month.It's here: Wireless local number portability is expected to arrive today in most major metropolitan areas in the U.S. (and in May next year for the rest). In case you've been living with wolves for the past 10 years, wireless number portability refers to a user's ability to retain the same cell phone number when switching service providers.It's usually touted as a consumer benefit, but there's a whopping effect on businesses. WNP could carve 20% to 35% off your organization's existing cellular service costs - starting as early as next month.Here's how. Over the years, many companies have chosen to fragment their cellular expenses, letting each user select a preferred service, and reimbursing the user directly, either per call or as a flat-rate stipend. A main reason for doing this was user resistance to losing numbers. The advantage to this approach? Administrative simplicity. The cost, however, was inflated rates: Because each user purchased an individual service, discounts were limited to nonexistent (some figures say the average business has cellular discount rates of no higher than 15% to 20%).With WNP, businesses finally can offer users number retention while delivering discounts to the bottom line. By offering all your cellular business to a range of providers and encouraging them to compete, you should be able to reap discounts of 40% to 50%.To ensure your negotiation and transition process goes smoothly, though, you'll need to do some legwork. Here are some items to tackle before launching your project:\u2022 Calculate your coverage requirements. You should take a good look at the geographies in which you require coverage, because it makes no sense to switch to a less expensive provider if the service is dicey. Submit your RFP only to providers that can meet your coverage needs.\u2022 Perform a user feature-set audit. With WNP, you might need to ask your users to switch phones. That can be surprisingly problematic: Phones are personal, and each user typically has a preferred set of features - like specialized rings or one-button "walkie-talkie" dial - that they don't want to lose. A painless way to conduct the audit? Set up an intranet page with a poll and an opportunity to comment. Ask users which features they value most and if they have preferences regarding new phones. By working with them instead of against them, you'll win support in the field.Speaking of phones, negotiate for a trade-in with your new provider. If it turns out that a significant number of phones will need to be replaced, see what kind of buyback deal you can get - particularly since you'll probably be upgrading to newer, more expensive phones.\u2022 Explore futuristic alternatives. As phones and handheld data devices continue to converge, options for converged applications grow. Don't hesitate to grill providers about their plans and strategies for next-generation voice\/data services.Good luck with your negotiation, and please let me know how it goes.Johnson is president and chief research officer at Nemertes Research, an independent technology research firm. She can be reached at email@example.com.