Wireless number portability (WNP) is coming to Canada in just over two weeks but judging by the lack of media coverage and non-existent advertising by the major carriers (Telus, Bell and Rogers), you’d think it wasn’t a big deal. Truth be told, WNP was hoisted upon the carriers who argued there was no demand for it by consumers. Of course, the carriers hate the idea of WNP because it means they’ll have to treat customers better and – heaven forbid – offer them deals to stick around. In other words, WNP could encourage competition in Canada – and none of the carriers really want to see that monster emerge.
This explains why the carriers have been so quiet about WNP. I mean, why advertise when WNP looks like zero-sum game: you may attract some customers from other carriers but chances are you’ll lose some of your own customers. That said, Rogers looks like it has the most to gain from WNP because as Canada’s only GSM carrier, it has the coolest phones, roaming out of the country is a snap, and you can move to another phone by simply putting your SIM card in. I expect Virgin Canada will also do well with some aggressive marketing.
That said, do not be surprised if the carriers somehow make it difficult for consumers to take their business and telephone numbers to a rival carrier. Perhaps they will charge a “transfer fee” to cost the administrative costs of moving a customer, or maybe the process will take several weeks to happen rather than a few days. Call me a conspiracy theorist but the carriers never wanted WNP and will likely to do their best to downplay its existence.
For other thoughts, check out the David Rotor.