Read a great article at BusinessWeek online today called Portability: Survival Tips for Cell-Phone Outfits. The article talks about US mobile phone carriers requirement to deal with mobile phone number portability on November 24th, 2003 and gives the big carriers some ideas on making the best of the situation.
In a nutshell, the article argues that mobile phone carriers would do well to go with the flow of number portability and make it easy. They should treat their customers as people rather than "units" by providing the excellent service their customers deserve. Lastly, carriers should make their pricing plans decipherable by mere mortals and hold off on the hidden fees.
An interesting statistic from the article:
"A recent survey by Management Network Group, a communications research firm, revealed that 6% of cell-phone users -- some 8.7 million people -- would switch carriers within a day if they could take their phone numbers with them. Some 27%, or 39 million customers, said they would switch providers as soon as they received a better offer. Better than 50% of those who experienced service issues in the past year said they would at some point switch carriers."
I for one will be looking to switch carriers, possibly to Virgin Mobile, since they offer an easy to comprehend pay-as-you-go service that suits my phone use patterns perfectly.
I hope that this shift in the US mobile market will improve options of the consumer -- mobile phone carriers already have way too much power, which makes number portability seem like a perfect way to give some power back to the consumer, where it belongs.