Figuring out the new cell phone number rules

Tuesday, November 11th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Help is one the way for people who are fed up with their cell phone company. If you don't like your company, but were afraid to leave because you didn't want to give up your phone number, you're now in luck.

New rules let you keep your phone number no matter which company you're with. News on 6 consumer reporter Rick Wells explains how it works.

"Hi grandma." Your cell phone calls to grandma costing too much? Service lousy? Change companies, you can now and take your number with you. It took 7 years of negotiating, but the new rules take effect the 24th of this month. "It'll probably be expensive” Not necessarily, the government says the charges for switching must be "just and reasonable". But if you are currently under contract, there may be an early termination fee, which might be expensive.

Here's another problem. You may have to get a new phone and you could lose all the information you have stored in the current one. "Will it take a long time to make the switch?" Nope, cell phone companies are going to want you to switch to their service, so they'll do it as quickly as they can. Most are shooting for something like a couple of hours. And you'll be able to use the old service 'til the new one is on-line.

"I'll see you then do I need to bring anything?" If you are switching companies, yes you'll need to contact the company you are switching to, bring your phone number your billing address and your latest bill. And only the person whose name is on the account can make the switch.

"Services such as caller ID, call waiting, voice mail, and they are all at a discounted price." Most experts say that even if you're not gonna make a switch now might be an excellent time to try to negotiate a better deal.

Experts predict millions will drop their traditional landline home phones in favor of cells. But if you do, be sure you have enough "day-time" minutes to cover your entire calling, or the switch could be expensive.