The announcement is Nextel's second so-called service level agreement. In September, the companywith competitor Sprint PCS.
Cell phone provider Verizon Wireless and its parent company, Verizon Communications, have the only other publicly disclosed service level agreement. The two carriers have already begun offering what's known as "number portability" between the two sets of subscribers.
Wireless industry analysts expect the pace of such deals to accelerate. Cell phone providers have until Nov. 24 to meet a federal mandate to allow subscribers to switch and keep their old phone numbers. "If all these carriers truly want to meet the deadline, we'll be hearing of a lot of these agreements," said Joe Laszlo, an analyst at Jupiter Research.
The cell phone industry's main lobbyists, the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, say the process has been slow, because federal regulators failed for so long to suggest an industrywide model carriers could use. The Federal Communications Commission published a nonbinding