Local Number Portability, or LNP, has been a hot topic recently among consumers and people working in the wireless communication industry. LNP is a new technical capability mandated by the FCC designed to allow consumers to easily switch between telephone companies while keeping their existing telephone numbers. LNP is being aggressively fought by the CTIA and its individual members, including Verizon Wireless, which released a statement claiming that the FCC would accomplish nothing by mandating it:
Requiring local number portability is bad public policy, and the resources required to fulfill this new mandate will unnecessarily be redirected from our core business activities: expanding network quality and reach, improving customer service, and initiating new services and products…Before the portability requirement is effective, American consumers should expect that when they change wireless service providers and want to keep their phone numbers, the process is easy and automatic.
While I think it will be awesome to be able to keep my phone number if I should decide to switch to a different phone company, I find myself agreeing with Verizon’s premise – the FCC needs to explain to carriers how to separate the phone numbers from the geographic information they are currently based on. They also need to think about whether it’s in the public’s best interest to have to dial a 10-digit phone number for a person next door, which is already in places like Michigan,
Chicago*, and New Jersey, but will become even more prevalent when numbers start to move across town (or potentially, across states).
The FCC needs to figure out how LNP is supposed to work before it’s implemented. Otherwise, you might need to keep the “dialing instructions” in your phone book handy.
* LINK TENDING 1/11 – Removed dead link.