VALDOSTA -- Valdosta residents with cell phones will have to wait for the Wireless Number Portability service that began on Nov. 24.

Valdosta may have finally acquired metropolitan status, but it's not nearly large enough to qualify for WNP service that allows cell phone users to change carriers and keep their old numbers. The service has started with the top 100 metropolitan areas in the country, said Tammie Paulk, assistant manager with Georgia Wireless in Valdosta. The service date is expected to begin in Valdosta about May 24, 2004, Paulk said.

Daniel Veal, sales representative with Sprint in Valdosta, said his business had received questions from some local customers who thought the WNP service would start here on Nov. 24. "It's not going to happen yet, not until May," Veal said.

Veal believes the new service will be a big deal. It not only allows customers to keep their personal numbers if they switch their carriers, but will also allow a business to keep its number. This will keep businesses from having to change business cards and any contact information for advertising.

Another wireless service in Valdosta, Alltel, has had a few people ask about the new service, and its office in Valdosta has been informing its customers that the service is scheduled to start locally in May, said Kathleen Kelly, sales manager for retail operations for Albany marketing, which includes Valdosta. Atlanta is the only metro area in the state that qualified as one of the 100 markets nationwide, she said. Within the company, which includes 26 states, Alltel has spent about $750 million in 2003 for better quality service for its customers.

"We want to get it right or make it right," Kelly said.

According to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution entitled "Cellphone users, today's your day," a common complaint from wireless customers concerns the pages of bills they receive. "We launched a new bill format that is customer friendly and has a quality guarantee," Kelly said.

With about six months before WNP arrives, wireless customers in Valdosta have time to check out the information and sort through the requirements to understand their options to successfully implement a WNP solution. Telecommunication Services Inc. has a request for a wireless number portability guide.

For information on the WNP and how to order the guide, log on to www.tsiconnections.com.



To contact reporter Rip Prine, please call 244-3400, ext. 237

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