Thinking of Switching Mobile Phone Carriers this November? Consider these Eight Tips from the Experts at Sprint

In just a few weeks, a new federal rule will allow wireless customers to keep the same mobile phone number if they switch carriers. The rule, called local number portability (LNP), will allow consumers more flexibility in shopping for mobile phone service.
Come November 24 when LNP takes effect, consumers will weigh many factors in deciding whether or not to switch carriers. Sprint reminds consumers to carefully review their options and to consider the following eight points:
1. Determine your obligations. Check with your current carrier on contract termination fees and invoice balances under your current contract. If you’re making the move to another carrier, early termination fees may apply. Check with your current carrier if you are uncertain when your contract ends.
2. If you do switch, remember: you’ll likely need a new phone. Yes, you can take your number with you. But in all likelihood, your old phone won’t be compatible with your new wireless provider. That’s because mobile phones from one carrier do not typically operate on competitors’ networks. On the plus side: this may be the excuse youneed to get one of those cool camera phones.
3. Get the most from your mobile phone. Consider this: what, beyond voice service, do you plan to use? Many carriers now offer a variety of exciting and useful data services, such as messaging, games, music, special ringers and screensavers and the sending and sharing of photos. If these services are important to you, ask in advance about
data rate plans, coverage and transmission speeds.
4. Consider the “bundled” services approach. To lower overall costs for telecommunications, put your calling into a bundled package that combines local phone service with long distance and wireless. For consumers in many states, Sprint Complete Sense offers bundled solutions with plans starting at $39.99 per month plus a discount on monthly wireless charges.
5. Put your new phone to the test. Many carriers offer trial periods for new customers, giving you the chance to see how well your phone works — and where. Take the phone for a “test spin” to make sure you’re satisfied that the device performs reliably for your needs in your local coverage area and elsewhere. If you’re not satisfied, you should return your phone during the trial period and get your money back. Note that you may still owe fees for activation and minutes used.
6. Be prepared to experience some possible delays as you make the switch. LNP is an intercarrier process requiring the cooperation of your previous service provider, and new activations involving a ported number will take longer than traditional wireless service activation. If the transfer process goes smoothly you can expect to be active on your new wireless service provider’s network in just a few hours. However, you should be prepared to experience delays as you make the switch — especially during the first few months of LNP. Customers new to Sprint can stay fully informed during the transfer process and can check the status of their port by dialing *2 from their new handset or by logging on to sprintpcs.com.
7. Keep in mind: not all numbers may be transferable. Not all numbers can be transferred in all markets and by all providers. Initially, LNP may only be available in larger markets. Also, remember that transferring your wireless phone number will only work if you are within the same geographic area. In other words, you cannot transfer
a New York number to Dallas and activate it as a local number at this time.
8. If you do decide to switch carriers and want to keep your number, here are a few additional tips to keep in mind. Continue to use your current phone until your new phone is fully functional. Service to your old phone will be automatically disconnected once the number has been transferred. It’s also helpful to have a copy of a bill from your
current service provider on hand. When processing your port request, it’s important that your new service provider correctly enter information from your account — like name (“Don” or “Donald”), address, account number, and phone number. If the information doesn’t match, the request to transfer your number may be delayed.

My spin: Guess what. Those cell phone carriers who provide excellent customer service, like Verizon, have nothing to worry about. Those who don’t, like Sprint, should quake in fear.

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Ramon Ray, Editor & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com . Editor and Founder, Smart Hustle Magazine Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook