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Wife Swapping News | 28th Nov | PEOPLE Swap Providers, Keep Numbers

Wife Swapping News - PEOPLE Swap Providers, Keep Numbers

... the wireless telephone industry eased into reality as wireless carriers began swapping ... Stroud, who with his wife, Brenda, bought wireless services from Alltel ...

People Swap Providers, Keep Numbers

TAMPA - The switch is on.
At 12:01 Monday morning, a revolution in the wireless telephone industry eased into reality as wireless carriers began swapping customers while allowing them to keep their phone numbers.

But while the changeover appeared to begin with few mishaps, it is certain to alter forever how telecommunications companies do business.

``It's about time,'' said Trey Stroud, 41, of Tampa. ``Ever since I heard the announcement, I've been waiting.''

In 100 major urban centers across the United States, including the Tampa Bay area, Monday was the first day telephone users could exercise a new legal right. The Federal Communications Commission now allows people to drop their wireless or land-line service provider for another wireless carrier without giving up their current phone number.

Other areas of the country will get the chance May 24.

Wireless carriers had fought the provision because it will heat up competition - and potentially hurt earnings. Attracting customers is more costly than keeping them.

Land-line companies - such as Baby Bells Verizon, SBC, Qwest and BellSouth - generally were against the change because they have been losing hundreds of thousands of customers each year and did not want to compete with the mobile phone companies.

But consumer groups supported the change, agreeing with the FCC that such competition would lead to better prices and improved quality and customer service.

Some could hardly wait to change. Stroud, who with his wife, Brenda, bought wireless services from Alltel and T-Mobile, was waiting for Verizon Wireless employees to open the door at 10464 N. Dale Mabry Highway at 8 a.m. Monday. He was one of an estimated 500,000 to 1 million people nationwide expected to change carriers Monday.

``On my cell phone, the number of times that I would be out and not be able to receive a call or make a call was just too much,'' said Stroud, who works for a television production company. ``This is my office. I cannot afford to not be contacted.''

Stroud bought a package of 1,600 minutes for $99.99 from Verizon Wireless for himself and his wife - about $10 more than the other two plans combined.

Invisible to Stroud and others making the change is the work of a communications technology company based in downtown Tampa, TSI Telecommunication Services Inc. With its two out-of-state partners, NeuStar and Telcordia, TSI will handle 90 percent of the switches, said Ed Evans, TSI's chief executive.

Half of TSI's 800 employees will work around the clock to ensure the automatic process of switching - or porting, in industry terminology - goes smoothly as possible.

Wireless-to-wireless changes should take 2 1/2 hours. Land-line-to-wireless swaps will take a few days, Evans said.

``There really hasn't been anything major,'' Evans said Monday about problems on the switch's first day.

But the change will have a big impact on TSI's bottom line. Helping telephone companies exchange a customer's number is expected to boost TSI's annual net revenue of $230 million by as much as $45 million, said Raymond L. Lawless, chief financial officer.

The telecommunications industry spent more than $1 billion developing, buying and testing the software and systems to make the changes happen, Evans said.

Despite some companies charging 44 cents to $1.75 per month to recover that cost, the increased competition among wireless and wire-line companies is expected to mean lower prices and better service.

Art Hushen, 47, hopes so. He and his wife each have a cell phone with Alltel and home phone with Verizon. Hushen said he plans to change his home phone number from Verizon to a wireless phone to get one bill.

``It's easier to manage it financially,'' said Hushen, a Tampa police officer.

Others like the idea but don't see a need to switch. Lisa Silvia said she's glad consumers now have the right to change carriers but keep their numbers. But Silvia's sticking with AT and T Wireless.

``I like the idea, in case I ever wanted to switch,'' she said. ``People keep your number, and if they have your number, that's great.''

Full credit for this Wife Swapping news article goes to: Tampa Tribune, FL

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