Q: Can I keep my current telephone number if I switch to a new telephone provider?
A: Yes, in most cases. “Local number portability” permits you to transfer a current home telephone number to a new home telephone provider. “Wireless local number portability” allows most wireline numbers to be transferred to a wireless provider as long as the consumer is staying in the same local area. Wireless phone numbers may be transferred between wireless providers only within the same metropolitan area. For example, wireless customers in Toledo may not be able to transfer their number to a wireless carrier in Dayton. The Federal Communications Commission is currently studying the impact on small wireline carriers of transferring a wireline number to a wireless carrier. Therefore, not all wireline to wireless transfers are possible.
Q: What should I do in order to keep my current number?
A: Above all, do not cancel service with your current provider until your service has been transferred to the new provider. This will keep you from losing service while your transfer request is being processed. Your new provider can give you more information about the transfer process and can coordinate the transfer. A copy of a recent telephone bill from your current company is needed to ensure that the new carrier will have the exact information needed to make the switch.
Q: How long will it take to transfer my telephone number to a new telephone service provider?
A: The length of time can depend on the type of transfer you are requesting. Wireless providers should be able to transfer an existing wireless number within a few hours while a wireline-to-wireless number transfer may take several days.
Q: How much does it cost to transfer a telephone number?
A: Charges vary among companies and there are two ways they can collect their fees. First, the federal government allows companies to charge all their customers a monthly fee for system upgrades that make number transfers possible. Second, companies are allowed to charge a fee to new customers wishing to transfer their current telephone number. This fee is based on costs charged to the new company by the old provider. Consumers should be sure to ask about any charges before deciding to transfer a number.
This "Law You Can Use" consumer legal information column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA). It was prepared by the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel in Columbus.