The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today issued a decision requiring all Canadian wireless telephone companies to implement wireless number portability (WNP) by March 14, 2007, in most of Canada. Today's decision follows a public notice issued on September 16, 2005, in which the Commission invited comments on several issues related to the implementation of WNP.
"This decision establishes the earliest feasible date for wireless number portability consistent with a smooth and reliable transition for wireless customers," says Charles Dalfen, Chairman of the CRTC. "Consumers should be given the widest possible choice of service providers and should be able to switch telephone companies without unwarranted cost or inconvenience."
By March 14, 2007 Bell Mobility, Rogers Wireless and the mobility division of TELUS Communications Inc. will be required to provide WNP to their customers in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. This means that customers in any of these provinces will be able to switch to any service provider in that province (wireline or wireless) and keep their phone number.
Throughout Canada, all wireless carriers will, by the same date, be required to release a phone number to another carrier (port-out customers) and by no later than September 12, 2007, to accept a phone number from another carrier (port-in customers).
While WNP will remove a significant barrier to changing wireless service providers, consumers should bear in mind that handsets may not function on different wireless carriers networks due to different network technologies; customers may have binding long term service contracts with early termination fees; long distance services may not be transferable from one carrier to another; and not all the services that a customer has with one service provider will be supported or provided by another service provider.
In the February budget of 2005, the Government of Canada requested the Commission move expeditiously to implement WNP. In a 2005 Decima survey conducted for the CRTC 70% of wireless consumers surveyed indicated that keeping their telephone number when changing wireless service providers was important. Comments from individuals during the Commission's proceeding were unanimously in favour of WNP and asked that it be implemented as soon as possible.