How to Change Phone Companies

By Laurie Rappeport
The FCC regulates the process of switching phone companies.

phone image by Eisenhans from Fotolia.com

You may decide to change phone companies if you've found a better rate for making phone calls, better overseas calling plan or better or cheaper Internet access through a different phone company. The Federal Trade Commission (FCC) regulates the process that phone companies must follow when customers decide to switch from one company to another. Before you switch you should research the incentives that a competing phone company may offer to ensure that you will really receive a better deal in the long run if you switch.

Contact the company to which you wish to switch. They will proceed with the necessary contact with your present phone company. Provide the new company with your phone number (including area code), customer account number and ZIP code. Provide your password if a password exists.

Maintain your own telephone number if you stay in the same geographic area. According to the FCC's "local number portability" rules you can switch telephone service from any VoIP, wireless or wired phone provider to any other and maintain your existing phone number.

Pay any outstanding balance that you owe to your present company and any termination fees your present contract requires. Your monthly phone bill or the contract that you signed with your present company will spell out your obligations regarding such fees. The old company many not refuse to switch your old number to a new number because of fees owed, but you still have the obligation to pay any fees owed.

Request new service to begin whenever you wish. You may expect that a simple transfer or "port" can occur within one business day. This includes wireless to wired, wired to wireless, wired or wireless to VoIP or other combinations. If your phone company operates in a rural area as a small carrier, it may take up to four business days to make the transfer.

Expect a period of mixed service, if you transfer from a wired to a wireless. You may have two telephones with the same number for the day when the transfer occurs. Discuss how to proceed on this day with your new company. Verify with the new company your accessibility to long-distance service and make sure your old handset will work with your new company's service.

About the Author

Laurie Rappeport is a writer and blogger with more than 10 years of experience. Her areas of expertise are in education, child development, travel, pets, nutrition and health for Demand Studios and a major travel website. Rappeport holds a Master of Arts degree from Wayne State University.

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