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Cell phone number portability

Wireless or cellular number portability allows US telephone subscribers to keep their cellular as well as landline telephone number when signing up for service with a (new) wireless company. Note that this can only be done within the same city/town (you can't move to another city and take your number with you).

Cellular portability was first implemented in 2003 and only in the largest 100 metropolitan areas within the US. Today, all US residents can port their telephone number to a new wireless carrier, the process normally taking around 2.5 hours.

Before deciding to port your number to a new wireless company

It is very important to take the time and acknowledge all the facts before deciding to change wireless providers. Many people feel they need a change, but keep in mind that changes are not always for the better. First of all, since cellular portability has been available most carriers have offered improved plans meant to keep existing subscribers from switching to another carrier. Therefore, unless you are really unhappy with your current carrier, make sure you call their sales department to check for special offers.

Secondly, do a thorough study of the carrier/plan you want to sign for. For those living in remote areas (and not only) certain wireless providers may not have very good coverage resulting in poor quality service. Also, read all the plan's details to make sure you get a better deal, otherwise why switch? Be aware that generally there is a fee for keeping your number. This fee is charged by your new carrier.

Finally, porting your cellular number does not mean that you will no longer incur termination fees paid to your old carrier in the case of switching before your term agreement with them expires.


To port your number you must contact the new company and they will take care of transfering your number from the old one. DO NOT cancel your service with the old provider before porting your number to the new company - if you do you will lose the number.

Porting your landline number to a wireless carrier

This can be done too and has been requested by many people with the increase in the use of cell phones. With some exceptions, most landline phone companies are required to allow local number porting to a wireless provider. This may take longer (up to 4 days).

Other resources on cellular portability