US mobile operators are currently lobbying telecoms regulator, the FCC, to delay the introduction of mobile number portability still further. The change, which would allow users to switch carriers but keep the same phone number, is currently scheduled to come into effect at the end of this year.
The original compliance date was June 1999, but lobbying from the larger carriers has already delayed this until 2002. The operators are now talking about scrapping the rule altogether, or at least extending the deadline still further. They claim that the software changes required would cost billions and provide little benefit.
However, smaller mobile operators and consumer groups claim that the changes required would be minor, pointing out that users in many European countries have been able to switch networks while keeping their mobile numbers for several years. They believe that the delays are more due to a desire to avoid competition than to technological problems.