Came across this helpful David Coursey article Switching cell phone carriers? Read this first! at ZDNet (via Gizmodo) and it reminded me that Mobile Phone Number Portability is set to arrive sometime in November... unless the carriers manage to delay it again.
I for one hope that number portability becomes reality, and I think many other mobile phone users probably feel the same way. Right now my wife and I are nearing the end of a long 2 year contract with Cingular that's due to expire in September. Why did we agree to a 2 year deal? I think it was a deal for two Nokia 3360 phones, but honestly, I think I was just a bit brain dead the day we made the deal. :-)
Anyway, Cingular's service is decent and we've been generally happy with them. However, their pricing plans seem a little limiting especially compared to some of the $30 per month all-you-can-eat plans with data included from carriers like Sprint. Cingular offers Internet services, but it's a slow connection and adds another $10 per month to the bill, per phone. That's doesn't even include minutes used.
As for number portability, I just want to have some kind of choice in the carrier I choose. I dislike the idea of losing our mobile phone numbers, since I have mine printed on my business cards and my wife and I would both have to dole out our new numbers to family and friends if we were to switch carriers.
I'm hoping that number portability will encourage more competition between carriers and hopefully break the stranglehold they have on wireless service. I'd love to see even more battles for lower prices and more features and more importantly, better customer service.
Unfortunately, as David Coursey points out, carriers will likely make it harder to switch services with other rules, once the biggest "hook" they have now (number portability) is settled. Right now we have a $200 per line cancellation fee with Cingular, which strongly encourages us to wait until September to even consider a switch. I can imagine these fees are going to rise and become even more restrictive in the short term.
So we'll see. In reality we're probably going to trim down to a single phone come September, so hopefully this time next year our one remaining mobile phone number will be the same, with better plan, maybe from a different carrier. That'd work for us.