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Cell Phone Switching Not So Swift

Techstination feature for Thursday, January 29, 2004

Two months after the start of cell phone number portability, wireless carriers say it hasn't been a big deal. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. There had been worries that the FCC rule requiring cell phone carriers to let customers keep their numbers when they switch from one company to another... would generate a stampede. But at Sprint, for instance, CEO Gary Forsee tells us...

"We've seen really an immaterial impact thus far of portability. I think there was a lot of expectations that this would be a very significant event for the industry, which I think it will be over time, but in terms of a groundswell of customers and a very significant dislocation between carriers in the first several weeks, it's too early to tell, but that hasn't occurred." Were you surprised by that? "Well I think it was one of those unknowns. I think all of the prognosticators and all of us in the industry really didn't know. I think there had been so much hype around the ability to port numbers, both from wireless to wireless as well as now wireline to wireless, I do think over time this will be a trend that will be part of the decision factor that a customer makes as they consider wireless carriers."

At Verizon, the nation's largest local phone company, CEO Ivan Seidenberg says...

"We're pleased with what we've seen so far where we believe we're holding our own. The activity for us is slightly higher than what our initial projections were. But they're much lower than what the industry analysts had projected in terms of the activity in local number portability."

What could be significant this year... is consolidation among wireless carriers. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.