How to Copy Contacts When Switching From Verizon to AT&T
By Micah McDunnigan
Despite incompatibilities between the devices Verizon and AT&T use, you can use a variety of methods to avoid manually re-typing all your contacts into your new phone. These can include specialized computers at AT&T stores to automate the entire process, using a smartphone's own software to copy your contacts to the new device, or using Verizon and AT&T's online backup tools.
GSM vs CDMA
AT&T and Verizon use two fundamentally different technologies for their cellular networks. AT&T uses GSM networks while Verizon uses CDMA technology. GSM phones store carrier network data on SIM cards, removable inserts you can move from phone to phone. These cards also hold personal information like your contacts list. CDMA phones store this information internally and require computerized assistance to transfer the data from phone to phone.
The simplest way to copy contacts from your Verizon phone to your AT&T phone is to bring both devices to an AT&T store that has a specialized computer for writing and reading data to and from both GSM and CDMA phones. Not every AT&T outlet has this equipment, so you should call ahead to confirm that the store you will visit does. If the store doesn't have it, the AT&T employees working there will be able to direct you to the nearest store that does.
If you will be using the same kind of smartphone on AT&T that you used on Verizon, then you can use Google, Apple, or BlackBerry's tools to copy your contacts from your old device to your new one. If you are using an Android device, then syncing your device with the same Google account will automatically download your contacts. If you are using an iPhone, then you can download your contacts by syncing the new device to your iCloud account. You can also transfer your BlackBerry contacts from one device to another through your computer with BlackBerry's "BlackBerry Link" software.
AT&T and Verizon Wireless both offer online tools for backing up and managing contacts for many of their non-smartphones. When you back up your contacts through Verizon's "Backup Assistant Plus" tool within your Verizon online account, you can export the contact list as a ".CSV" file to your computer. You can copy these contacts onto your new AT&T phone by importing this file into AT&T's Mobile Backup website. AT&T will then push those contacts to your phone.
Micah McDunnigan has been writing on politics and technology since 2007. He has written technology pieces and political op-eds for a variety of student organizations and blogs. McDunnigan earned a Bachelor of Arts in international relations from the University of California, Davis.