• United States

Wireline-to-wireless number portability expected

Aug 28, 20032 mins
Cellular NetworksEnterprise ApplicationsGovernment

Gartner predicts that wireline-to-wireless number portability will change the telecommunications market for carriers and users.

The consulting firm expects the FCC to give credence to such a mandate as early as mid-2004, says Ron Cowles, research vice president at Gartner, which “will have a major effect on the U.S. telecommunications market.”

Gartner predicts that up to 10% of wireline users will port their phone numbers over to wireless service providers when that opportunity is available.

Wireline-to-wireless number portability will offer users more freedom to move their landline telephone service to a wireless provider for better service rates or geographic flexibility.

“It will turn marketing strategies upside down and have a significant impact on customer calling patterns and areas, state and federal regulations, pricing and interconnection agreements, and product offerings and plans,” Cowles says. 

The matter of whether the FCC will actually create new rules to support wireline-to-wireless number portability isn’t clear. According to the FCC, its current rules “require porting between wireless and wireline carriers.”

As the FCC’s deadline of Nov. 24 looms, the commission may further clarify some of its existing rules. An FCC spokeswoman says the commission is looking at one outstanding issue raised by the industry. The issue involves porting local wireline numbers to a wireless carrier’s system that does not offer service in that particular local area.

The FCC has not issued further comment on this outstanding concern, but intends to clarify any and all rules that pertain to wireless number portability before the November deadline.

Porting landline numbers to wireless service providers is expected to have a stronger impact on the consumer market than the business market initially, Cowles says. Business users are dependant on their PBX switches, are more sensitive to quality-of-service issues and will likely not exclusively migrate to a wireless service, he says.

But as services mature and quality improves, business may be more inclined to support a mix of wireless and wireline phones within their organization, he says.