Sometimes technology can be trying — such as when you want to change cell-phone or Internet service providers (ISP). It is easy enough to find new providers, but after you sign up with a new carrier, you have to notify everyone about your new phone number or e-mail address.But your frustration is about to be eased.
Portable cell numbers
In early June, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that mobile-communication service providers had to make cell-phone telephone numbers portable.
Last year, the Federal Communications Commission imposed a portability rule on cell-phone carriers. The FCC claimed the rule was necessary because consumers who are dissatisfied with their service but do not want to change their phone number were forced to use a company they didn’t want to use.
Verizon and the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (the cell-phone industry’s trade group) objected to the cell-phone number portability rule. They claimed the rule was unnecessary and capricious.
The court did not accept Verizon’s argument. Its ruling gives consumers the ability to take their cell-phone numbers with them. Deadline for companies to offer portability is November 24.
You already have solutions to the e-mail dilemma: Get a free or low-cost e-mail account that you can access over the Internet, use an e-mail forwarding service or register for a domain to get your own personalized e-mail address.
• Free e-mail. The granddaddy of free Web-based e-mail services is Hotmail (www.hotmail.com). Another “old-timer” is Yahoo!Mail, www.yahoo.com. Do a Google search for “free e-mail” and you will find a number of similar services.
Some of these you can access only through your Web browser. With others, you can set up your e-mail program (such as Outlook) to download mail from your free e-mail service. A major difference between free e-mail and low-cost e-mail is advertising. If you don’t mind advertising appearing on your e-mail, go with a free service.
Suggestion: If you decide to get a free or low-cost Web e-mail account, check to see how much mailbox capacity you are given (bigger — up to 10 MB — is better) and if you are able to accept and send attachments, including photographs and sound clips.
• E-mail forwarding. A second solution is to sign up for a mail-forwarding service, such as Bigfoot (www.bigfoot.com) or Netforward (www.netforward.com). In mail-forwarding, you get a permanent e-mail address, but your mail does not reside on the forwarding-company’s server. Instead, it is immediately sent to your “real” e-mail address, the one assigned to you by your ISP.
Correspondents never know when you change your ISP (for example, from AOL to Earthlink). To change ISPs, you merely change the forwarding information, much the same as you do at the post office when you move.
Bigfoot offers limited (25 messages a day) free e-mail forwarding. Netforward charges $10/year for this service. With Bigfoot, your e-mail address is DrDoe@bigfoot.com. Netforward lets you choose a permanent e-mail address from among 20 different domain names.
• Your domain, your personal e-mail address. A third — and most professional-looking — solution is to acquire a personalized domain. (See “How to initiate a Web presence” on page 68.) Even if you choose not to put up a Web site, you can “park” your domain name (allow it to sit idle) on the domain registrar’s site and forward e-mails to your ISP, utilizing your domain as an e-mail forwarding service.
Having your own domain and personalized e-mail has its advantages:
• No change of e-mail addresses. You’ll never have to alert correspondents if your ISP-assigned address changes.
• Professional. Having a domain name looks professional. It makes you look up-to-date.
• Easy to remember. Your patients will find it easy to remember, especially if has your clinic’s name in it.
Linda Segall is editor of Chiropractic Economics.