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AT&T admits to portability problems

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The US regulator the FCC has singled out AT&T Wireless as the most-challenged carrier after receiving an unusually high number of complaints against the vendor from users wishing to port their numbers.

AT&T is the third largest carrier in the U.S. but it leads the user complaint list for those looking to move their phone number between carriers. Consumers have been able to shift their wireless and landline numbers for two weeks and in that time a total of 600 complaints have been lodged against all carriers, as of late Monday afternoon.

"The majority of these complaints allege delay in moving a number from one wireless carrier to another, the FCC said. "There are similar complaints, although fewer in number, alleging delay in moving from a wireline carrier to a wireless carrier. The second biggest category alleges refusal or failure by carriers to “port” a number after receiving a consumer request."

AT&T has been mentioned 332 times in the complaints followed by Verizon with 129 complaints and Cingular with 98. Sprint follows with 94, Nextel with 46 and T-Mobile USA with 44. The FCC notes that some complaints may not pertain to an actual rule or order, meaning the companies may be in the right in various cases.

Still, there appears to be something amiss with AT&T's performance thus far.

"On December 4, noting the pattern of complaints and various press reports, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau sent a letter to AT&T Wireless asking for information about the nature of the problems the company appeared to be facing with the porting process and what the company was doing to remedy the situation," the FCC said. "AT&T Wireless has until December 10 to respond."

To its credit, AT&T isn't being shy about admitting its portability problems.

"Earlier on, we did have performance problems," AT&T Wireless President of Mobility Services Michael Keith told Reuters.

It takes a brave man to confront porting impotence in that fashion.

"If you stumble for a moment your competitors shine a light on you," he continued. "We did stumble but we have recovered."

AT&T vows it has improved rollover times and is now in line with the rest of the industry. It can sometimes get a number up and moved in thirty minutes. ®

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