The Portable Number

Soon your cell digits can switch carriers. What that means for you

Steve Baer, 48, is fed up with his cell-phone service. When the advertising executive moved to Atlanta six months ago, he considered switching from AT&T Wireless to a carrier with better coverage in the neighborhood where he lives. But there was one thing holding him back: he didn't want to give up his number.

Come Thanksgiving he won't have to. On June 6 a federal appeals court ruled that cell-phone subscribers should be allowed to hold on to their existing phone number when they switch providers, handing consumers a major victory in a seven-year battle between the wireless industry and...

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