relatively little wireline-to-wireless number porting

Relatively few U.S. telephone numbers have been ported from a wireline telephone service provider to a wireless telephone service provider. In the first half of 2009,  22.7% of U.S. households had only wireless (mobile) telephones.  Another 14.7% of households received all or almost all calls on wireless phones. The U.S. has about 114 million households.  Nonetheless, only 3.8 million wireline number portings (about 5% of total wireline number portings) have been from a wireline to a wireless service provider since 2003. Persons switching to using mobile phones as their primary phones aren’t typically doing so with prior wireline numbers.  Most wireline number ports are from one wireline provider to another wireline provider.

What explains this porting pattern?  Part of the explanation is that young persons are much more heavily represented among wireless-only and wireless-mostly households.  Young persons who have always used their mobile phone as their primary phone would not have reason to port a wireline number to a wireless phone. Other persons who had used a wireline phone as a primary phone and switched to using a wireless phone as their primary phone may not have wanted to bring their prior calling network and prior number knowledge distribution to their wireless phone. Mobile phone numbers, especially in the U.S., tend to be disseminated less than wireline numbers.  Not porting a wireline number to a wireless phone allows a wireless user to reset others’ knowledge of her or his telephone number.

Data: See Table 14 in FCC, Numbering Resource Utilization in the United States.

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