Cell phone switching costs

On Nov. 24 cell phone users will, for the first time, be able to take their phone numbers with them when they switch carriers. The added convenience is a good thing but comes at a price. A locked-in customer is a valuable customer so when switching costs are important firms compete especially vigorously at the entry level. Today, you can get a cell phone for free if you sign up for a phone plan. After Nov. 24, I expect to see up-front giveaways become less generous. Overall, consumers will be better off as the competition for switchers lowers the price of service plans. Consumers who use their phones intensively will benefit the most, less intensive users will benefit less because the fall in service plan rates may not compensate for the rise in up-front fees. That at least, is my prediction. A good dissertation lies here.

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