Under a Report and Order adopted by the FCC on Wednesday, landline phone service providers will be required to port subscriber phone numbers to competitive wireline carriers or to cable, Internet, or wireless phone operators within one day of a service transfer request, instead of within the four-day interval mandated for the last twelve years by the FCC. Approved unanimously by the FCC’s three current members, the order is intended to boost competition by making it easier for landline customers to switch to alternative providers. The rule change would also bring the porting practices of wireline carriers more into line with those of wireless firms, which routinely complete number transfers within a few hours of a requested switch in carriers. Admitting that Wednesday’s rule change is long overdue, the FCC asserted that its ruling takes into account technological changes that make it easier for wireline operators to complete local number portability requests on an expedited basis. Despite these technological improvements, however, the agency acknowledged that carriers will have to overcome various challenges to implement the rules. Accordingly, the newly-adopted porting period will be implemented in stages, with the North American Numbering Council to be given 90 days in which to craft technical rules. Large incumbent local exchange carriers will be required to comply with the rules within nine months, and rural telcos serving less than 2% of the nation’s access lines will be given up to 15 months to deploy the new system. Representatives of the cable industry applauded the FCC’s move, which Comcast described as “a win for consumers.”
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FCC orders reduction in wireline, intermodal porting interval
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