Switch Companies But Keep Your Number

It's been in the works for years, and tomorrow it becomes law in many areas. Cell phone customers will be able to switch providers while keeping their local numbers. Many cell phone customers say they are just waiting for their contracts to expire so they can change companies.

Mike McClain started his personalized card business after retirement. Like almost all business, he wonders how he was able to stay competitive without a wireless phone for years.

"We've done this at craft shows where we don't have land line and a cell phone has become a must," McClain said.

McClain's cell number is in the hands of hundreds of clients and customers, and on his business cards. Staying in touch with customers, keeps the orders coming in.

"So the idea of losing that number would be, you know, would be very expensive. But a new law may actually help cell phone users...save money," McClain said.

For the first time, Monday morning a federal law lets customers change cell phone providers, but keep their existing number. It's called local number portability.

"We'll actually have to go into our system and put in that number for them and it will transfer it over to us," AT&T Wireless Communication Specialist Bonnie Reinhart said.

Wireless phone companies tried to block the new rules from going into effect but now that it's here, they're baiting customers with some very generous deals. They're offering more minutes and cheaper rates, camera and walkie talkie phones and other cutting edge enhancements like faster Internet connections.

"The fact that I could possibly keep my number, and somebody offers me a little bit better benefits than I have right now at a good price, yeah I would strongly consider the possibility of changing companies," McClain said.

And because millions of people like Mike McClain want to save money and have quality service cell phone companies are dropping their rates hoping to keep the customers they have and lure new ones in.

When switching providers find out if your number is eligible for porting. Keep your current service active. Numbers can't be ported if the service is canceled. Check your contract and choose your new phone and calling plan. And you'll need to bring in a copy of your bill. It will make the porting process smoother for the new provider.