On May 13, 2009, the FCC, through a unanimous majority of three Commissioners, adopted a much-anticipated Order reducing the time to one business day to complete wireline-to-wireline and intermodal (wireline-to-wireless; wireless-to-wireline; and all interconnected VoIP ports) ports of a consumer's telephone number. A four business day porting interval has been in place for wireline ports since 1997. By contrast, the wireless industry has had a voluntary 2.5 hour porting interval standard. Motivated by the strong desire consumers have to retain their existing telecommunications numbers and "the important role intermodal providers play in telecommunications competition", the FCC found porting delays to be a "significant concern" since customers often abandon efforts to switch providers if they are frustrated by slow porting. The new porting interval will apply for all telecommunications carriers and other interconnected VoIP providers subject to the FCC's local number portability ("LNP") rules.
The FCC directed the North American Numbering Council ("NANC") to develop new LNP provisioning flows to address the shortened porting interval within 90 days of the effective date of the Order. Affected providers will have nine (9) months' time from the date NANC submits revised LNP provisioning flows to the FCC to implement software changes and upgrades, and establish internal process/policy changes in order to comply with the one business day porting interval. Smaller providers with fewer than 2 percent of the nation's subscriber lines, and Tier III wireless carriers will have fifteen (15) months to comply from the date of the NANC submission.
Many smaller incumbent local exchange carriers opposed the porting interval because of the claimed high cost of implementing automated systems to handle a shorter porting interval requirement. The FCC responded that these carriers have five years under FCC rules to recover such one-time costs through end-user charges. Also, carriers with fewer than 2 percent of the nation's subscriber lines may apply to a State Commission for relief, or apply to the Commission for a waiver of the new rule for "good cause" that it is economically burdensome.
Most wireless carriers and VoIP providers (Cable TV or nomadic VoIP) are pleased with the FCC's Order, since they argued strongly that the four day wireline porting interval impeded their ability to win new customers, and discouraged intermodal competition.