On Tuesday, October 29th, 2013, AT&T Wireless quietly made an important change to one longstanding policy on personal wireless accounts. Prior to Tuesday, individuals and families seeking to combine phone numbers from different regions of the country onto a single AT&T Wireless account were mostly out of luck.
This limitation had become a bigger deal in recent years. The most mobile in our society – college students and young adults – often keep a particular cell phone number long after their area code ceases to reflect their current area of residence. It’s not uncommon for two AT&T customers to eventually form a household and want to merge their phones into a family plan, only to be rebuffed when they wish to hang onto the phone numbers that they’ve each carried with them from place to place.
Prior to this week, there was one workaround. Some customers had successfully migrated their personal accounts into what AT&T calls an ‘NBI’ account, short for National Business Indicator. As the name implies, NBI accounts were never intended for personal or family use. Successfully getting into one depended on finding an AT&T representative willing to bend the rules. But no more.
AT&T now allows personal wireless customers to combine phone numbers from different regions into a single account as a matter of course. What was formerly a big deal now isn’t. You can combine phone numbers from any part of the United States onto a single AT&T Wireless account as easily as you can combine two numbers located in the same town.
Now as a tech guy, seeing is believing. My current iPhone and iPad happen to comprise an AT&T Mobile Share plan and carry phone numbers from New York City. I have a number from another region that I wished to put to the test and merge into my AT&T account. So today I walked into an AT&T retail store in Shelton, Connecticut. In a matter of minutes, an AT&T Retail Sales Consultant was able to port the other number into my existing AT&T account. I’ll be billed a $35 activation fee, and my Mobile Share plan’s monthly bill will increase to reflect the additional device. The process is finally just as simple as it should be, making for good news for AT&T’s current and future customers.