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Phone numbers now portable

Judy McNeil

Cellphone users now have the choice to keep their old numbers when switching providers.

As of yesterday, cellphone companies will no longer be able to impose a new phone number on people when they change carriers. This gives more power to people who sometimes feel trapped into staying with the same carrier because of the hassle of notifying hundreds of friends and relatives and businesses, of a change in number.

Marc Choma of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association said Canada has surpassed the half-way mark in penetration of wireless phone use.


“There comes a time when an industry reaches a certain maturity level where it can support wireless number portability and obviously it’s going to bring another layer of customer choice to wireless phone numbers out there,” Choma said. “Right now 58 per cent of all Canadians are wireless phone subscribers. There are 18.5 million wireless phone users as of 2006. So the market is mature enough now that we were able to implement this.”

“It is probably the largest cooperative undertaking ever assembled with the telecommunications industry in Canada,” Choma added.

Elizabeth Hamilton of Rogers Communications Inc. said the company should be ready for the change. “We feel it’s essentially going to be business as usual.”

Sarah Small, a first-year court and tribunal student welcomes the change.

“It’s good because it actually limits the hassle of calling your friends and saying, ‘oh, I have a new phone number.’ Whereas you can just keep the same number and there is no problem after that,” Small said.

Choma said people will not only be able to take their cellphone numbers to another company, but they will also be able to take their home number and “make that into your wireless number. Or, if you already had a wireless phone number, you could make that your home number,” he said.

Joanne Noton, a first-year broadcasting and radio student, said although the change is welcome, she would not switch from Telus unless another carrier had something tailored to her needs.

“Each carrier has their own monthly plan so people usually base whether or not they are going to change their carrier for that monthly plan,” said Noton.

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