NBC’s Michelle Franzen ReportingTired of having to change your cell and telephone numbers every time you switch companies? In less than two weeks, an FCC regulation will put the power of choice in the consumer's hands.
Consumers are going to be able to switch their home phone numbers to their cell phones. The Federal Communications Commission is giving its approval, allowing the transfer as long as the consumer's wireless coverage area overlaps the location of the conventional phone.
The rule will take effect in two weeks -- the same day wireless consumers will be able to keep their numbers when they switch cell phone companies. And for now, it will only cover customers living in the 100 most populous metropolitan areas. It will take effect six months later for everyone else.
The FCC also says it wants to let people transfer cell phone numbers to conventional phones, but it needs to find out more about it.
Cell phones have become such a way of life that few people can imagine living, or doing business without them.
Abbas Samii, Consumer: “You’re always connected no matter where you are.”
On November 24th, the competitive market of wireless and traditional land-line service is in for a big change. Consumers will have the option of cutting the cord and going wireless at home and on the go. It's called wireless local number portability. The FCC regulation gives consumers the power to switch their home phone numbers to their cell phones.
Michael Powell, FCC Chairman: "In the wireless world the numbers become very personal to people. It's their personal device and their personal identity. So they want to take that with them when they change carriers."
The new rules will also allow wireless users to keep their cell phone number for life--no matter which company they choose."
Anne Marie Nespoli, Consumer: “I memorize my credit car numbers, my social security numbers; it’s nice to know there’s going to be one and that’s it.”
Consumer advocates say the convenience of going wireless--even with your home number--could be costly in times of emergency.
Mark Cooper, Consumer Federation of America: "You do lose your emergency services, and clearly the quality of service, if you're moving around (wireless) is not as good as wireless service."
There is a catch; the telephone number must fall in the coverage area of your wireless service. Customers in the nation's 100 most populated metro areas, which includes Salt Lake City, will have the freedom of choice starting November 24th. The rest of the country will have to wait until May to have the services.