Thursday, September 25, 2003

Hold the phone

Just now I got a call from Sprint PCS - on my wireless Sprint PCS phone. The guy on the other end made sure to tell me I would not incur charges for the call and that he was calling to make sure I was happy with my service ... and to tell me that I could get an even better deal on the package I have.

I told him "no, thanks" and that I was not interested in making any changes to my service right now.

What's behind this unusual outreach from Sprint? Number portability.

I was shopping for new phones a couple of months back, and an agent at T-Mobile (the company I'd most like to switch to, partly because they have a great network and great devices, and partly because they employ Catherine Zeta-Jones as a spokesbabe) told me that number portability is coming for sure this fall (November 24, I believe).

Since that time I have noticed a flood of ads and offers from wireless carriers. And the call from Sprint reinforces the carriers' strategy: lock up customers in new contracts before portability goes into effect.

So hold your phone, at least until the end of November.

When the era of number portability arrives, you'll see a couple of changes in the wireless phone market:

1) Phones and service plans will become cheaper
2) Required contracts will become longer

I'm currently not under contract with Sprint, which is why they are so eager to lock me up before portability is a reality. But I'm not biting.

I'm a free agent, and come November 24 I'll be shopping my business around. I assume I'll be locked into a 2-year contract, but I'll have my pick of companies and plans ... and my number to keep.

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