Mobile Number Portability in the USA: 18 Months Later
Mobile number portability (MNP) was first instituted in the US on November 24, 2003 – a date wireless carriers feared most. US mobile operators braced themselves for what they expected to be one of the largest challenges within their industry. Eighteen months after its introduction, number portability has been more of a lumbering elephant and less of a roaring lion.
At the onset, the FCC, wireless operators, and many industry analysts expected 30m subscribers to transfer their wireless number within the first 12 months of MNP’s introduction. Only 7.8m actually did. The top five national carriers have all added customers during this time, with AT&T/Cingular growing by about 5% on the low end, and T-Mobile growing by more than 33% on the high end. Overall, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile have been the biggest winners as they have focused on improving network quality and customer service
However, The New Cingular may soon become MNPs largest beneficiary as it has become the nation’s largest carrier. Pyramid Research Senior Analyst Taha Rangwala commented, “I expect to see a significant number of existing mobile subscribers to be lured by Cingular, as the operator boasts the largest free in-network calling base of 50m subscriber in the country.”
Verizon will continue to reap the benefits of MNP as its network and customer service continue to improve, proving time and again that subscribers in the US are willing to pay a premium price on mobile telephony as long as they receive quality customer service and superior network coverage. Moreover, since Verizon wsa the first to launch a 3G (1xEVDO) network and currently has the largest 3G network in the country, trend-setting youngsters and high data-usage subscribers have an even greater incentive to port their number over onto its network.
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