A few years ago, I found myself moving from one location in the US to another. Shortly after we moved in, I found that my current cell provider wasn’t cutting the mustard in our new location, and needed to switch providers.
Changing to a New Cellular Service can be difficult or easy depending on if you want to port your number to your new provider or not. If you’re not interested in porting your number over to your new provider, simply take your bill from your old provider into the company with which you would like service and they can take care of you. If you don’t have a bill handy, you can simply take your account number from your previous provider and let the new company know the name of the previous provider. As the new company gets your service setup, they have the option of listing your account number and previous provider, which effectively cuts off service with your old provider and sets up your new service with them. Pretty slick, huh?
Not so fast! If you are like many of us, you will want to port your old number to your new provider, so that you don’t have to spend the next day telling everyone you’ve ever had contact with that you have a new number. There are several things to consider before you decide to port your number. Not the least of which is that the FCC currently only supports porting a number locally. That is to say, you may switch from AT&T to US Cellular, provided the switch is in the city in which you currently (before your move) reside. According to information found on the US Cellular website:
You can only port your number to another carrier within the same local service area. While geographic porting may occur at a later time, no target date has been specified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
You are in a completely different Area code
One thing you might consider before porting your number over, is that having just moved halfway across the map, you are now in a different area code and any new contacts you will make in your new home will have to call long distance to reach you. In this case, it may be best if you decide to get that new number and spend tomorrow informing all of your friends and family that they can contact you at your new number. This way your new boss won’t have to dial New Jersey in order to contact you in Silicon Valley. If you do decide to port your number, you will have to do it before you move.
You are currently in the middle of a Contract
Most people don’t like spending a lot of money, especially if they feel they aren’t getting anything in return. Buying out your contract with your current cell provider may not be the best way to go, but if their service in your new area isn’t working out, then it may be your only option. My brother, for example, has found that if he stands in a certain spot in his kitchen, he can get great service. One step to the left, one step to the right, and he’s lost his call. In his case, there are no service providers that offer great service to his location so he’s gone with the best one available to him. In your case, however, you will probably have several service providers that may offer better phone service than your previous carrier. Depending on where you are in your contract, it may well be worth it to spend the money and get out of your current contract in order to get better phone service. If you are right at the beginning of your contract, you may have second thoughts, especially if you can find that one spot in the house you can get great service.
You have performed a local move
This currently is the ONLY circumstance in which the FCC provides for porting your number, that is, Local to Local. Again, you’ll need to consider the variables above, but if you find your current service provider isn’t handling your new location very well, you may need to consider other options and service providers.
So why would I want to port my number before I move and take it with me? Assuming your new living area supports the new cellular provider, one big benefit is if Mom and Dad still have a land line, or an inexpensive cell plan and call you a lot. The benefit is to them, as they won’t be paying any long distance charges, as they are technically still in the same area code as your phone. Largely, this is going to depend on how you use your phone. If your family calls you frequently and lives in the old area code, you’re going to save them money. However, if you use your phone for work, you’ll probably want to switch over to a new number and let the old one go.
Making the switch to a new cell provider is a lot easier today than it was several years ago. But make sure you take the time to examine your options before you make your move.