The Great Number Portability Scam?

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Our friends at Gizmodo, recently ran a quick survey on how much the carriers are charging for the number portability from their customers, even though the regulation does not go into affect until November 24, 2003. Here is what Gizmodo found out:

* Sprint PCS: Collects $1.10 a month
* T-Mobile: Not charging a cent
* Nextel: A charge of either $1.55 or $2.83.
* Verizon: Most readers reported no portability charge, but it seems to vary by state, with some reporting being charged $0.55 for portability.* Cingular: Collects a fee of up to $1.25 for “Regulatory Cost Recovery.”
* AT&T Wireless: Collects $1.75. (complete details at Gizmodo)

I am not sure how long these carriers have been charging these fees. But here is the fly in the ointment. When you place these numbers against the third quarter average revenue per unit, you see dirty pictures. AT&T Wireless saw its ARPU jump 1.8% from $61.50 in 2q 2003 to $62.60 in 3q 2003. That’s a jump of $1.10 in ARPU. Additional collections related to WLNP: $1.75.

Sprint ARPU was bumped up by $2 to $65. Its Number portability charges: $1.10 per user. At Nextel, the ARPU was $72.20 in the 3Q 2003, up almost $2.40 per user. Stack it against the number portability charges and you get the complete picture. Verizon which is charging nothing for the NP, saw its ARPU jump 80 cents to $50, while Cingular despite the $1.25 fee saw a decline in its ARPU by$1.10 a share.

Now these numbers perhaps don’t mean anything, but surely something stinks and I intend to follow-this up with the phone companies. I urge you do the same and come-back and report what you find. (I have no idea how much of this flows back to the federal and state governments but I am sure I will track it down. And of course this will include a phone call to the FCC offices to get a complete picture from them.)

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