info 11.13.03

Cell Phones

You think there are a lot of crossed wires in the wireless world now? Faster than you can say 'hello moto', the cell phone world is going into showdown mode (November 24th is the gunshot in the air) as the Number Portability Act goes into effect. Expect a little chaos in the short term, better deals and service, eventually.

Here are some of the key points from the FCC:

· Gives wireless consumer the ability to change service providers within the same local area and still keep the same phone number.

· It doesn't allow consumers to keep the same phone number when moving to a new town or city.

· Consumers can move a phone number from a landline phone to a wireless phone in some cases.

To start the process, contact the prospective new carrier, who will start the porting process. Note that termination fees from your old carrier still apply. For more info, have a look at: The FCC Guide.

Our pals at the great gadget website, Gizmodo, were kind enough to let us reproduce their survey of what fees wireless carriers are charging customers for this new portability. These fees apply even to customers who are not switching.

AT&T Wireless: Collects $1.75 for "Regulatory Program Fees," which includes number portability and E911 service, though some readers wrote in that they weren't being charged anything extra.

Cingular: Collects a fee of up to $1.25 for "Regulatory Cost Recovery," which likely includes number portability. Most Cingular subscribers who wrote in said that they were being charged $0.32 for this, but others said they weren't being charged anything at all. Probably varies by state.

Nextel: Some readers wrote in that there were no portability charges on their bill, but others reported seeing a charge of either $1.55 or $2.83 for "Federal Programs Cost Recovery," which covers number portability.

Sprint PCS: Collects $1.10 a month for "Federal Wireless Number Pooling And Portability."

T-Mobile: Not charging a cent, and some readers report receiving bonus "loyalty minutes" as well.

Verizon: Most readers reported no portability charge, but it seems to vary by state, with some reporting being charged $0.55 for portability.UPDATE: Just spoke with Verizon about this, and they say they're definitely not charging anything at all for portability. Which means that they're doing an awfully poor job of communicating this to their own customers, who think they're being charged when they're not.

The cell phone satisfaction study was conducted by J.D. Power and Associates:

#1 LG ranks highest in overall customer satisfaction with wireless cell phones, consistently performing above the industry average across all five areas that impact carrier performance, especially with features and physical design.
#2 Samsung
#3 Sanyo
#4 Motorola
#5 Kyocera

This is the wireless carrier satisfaction study conducted by J. D. Power and Associates (A score of 100 is the industry average):

104 — Verizon
103 — Nextel
101 — Cingular
100 — AT&T Wireless
95 — Sprint PCS
94 — T-Mobile
93 — Alltel

Report cell phone dead zones to 311 or

Mobile phone news, info, and reviews: Phone Scoop
Consumer advice on wireless phone companies: WirelessAdvisor
Yesterday's MUG: Scottish Dossier

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