I know that some congresspeople have been working on a requirement that cellular telephone companies make their phone numbers portable (that is, movable from carrier to carrier) at some point. The date appears to keep moving further ahead in time. I'm sure there are large technical problems to surmount, and you don't build your system to make it easier for customers to move. Even though you want to take advantage of other folks' customers who want to move to you.
But is anyone working on email portability? By which I mean that someone's email address doesn't die when a carrier goes out of business or when you leave that provider, but that it continues to function in some limited way for a guaranteed period of time?
As the recent @Home debacle showed, the carriers are much more concerned about their pocketbooks than their customers, even when they're eviscerating a company that they partly own. (Explain all that to me, anyway.) Perhaps the private sector needs a legislative boost. Perhaps ISPs should be required to forward email or offer an auto-responder for up to 12 months for an old email account? (Forwarding can be a burden and can be abused quite easily.)
Perhaps a small fee (as little as 5 or 10 cents a month per subscriber) could fund an NGO or non-profit that would operate the forwarding site. Rather than require each ISP to create its own forwarding system in which a user could provide a new email address, a separate organization could manage it. The old ISP would forward email or use XML-RPC or a similar protocol to notify the organization's systems, which would send out or forward the email. The fee would help fund restoration of domain mail exchange records for defunct ISPs.