November 18, 2003 8:12 PM PST

Group wants phone number plan put on hold

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BellSouth eyes wireless portability fee

November 17, 2003
A telephone industry association on Tuesday asked federal regulators to stop telephone number portability rules from taking effect on Nov. 24.

Letting people keep old telephone numbers after switching carriers creates an unfair competitive advantage for cell phone companies, the United States Telecom Association (USTA) told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday. The FCC's rules will also cause financial stress on rural telephone providers, the USTA added.

The USTA and telephone service provider CenturyTel gave the FCC until Thursday to suspend the number swapping rules. If not, the USTA and CenturyTel will ask a federal judge to intervene, according to an association statement.

"All we ask is that (regulators) take the time to do it right and live up to its repeated pledge that it would not implement any system that discriminates between (land line) and wireless carriers," USTA Chief Executive Officer Walter B. McCormick Jr. said in a statement.

Representatives from the FCC and the cell phone trade group Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association could not be immediately reached for comment.

The USTA and CenturyTel filing is the second this week by telephone companies regarding the FCC's number portability mandate. On Monday, BellSouth asked the FCC's permission to charge monthly fees to recover the $38 million it spent to allow customers to keep their old telephone numbers after switching to a cell phone provider.


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