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Your Guide to Phone Number Porting: It Is And How To Do It

June 19, 2023
phone system for small business

The first successful number porting occurred in 1997 in the US. Nowadays, Over 100 million phone numbers are ported annually in the US.

Number porting means moving your phone number from one provider to another. With number portability, you can keep the same number irrespective of your location or service provider. This applies to personal landline and cellphone numbers as well as business phone numbers and virtual numbers. How does it work? What are the potential challenges of porting a number? Let’s take a closer look!

Table Of Content
  • What is number porting?
  • What to keep in mind when porting your number
  • Why should you consider porting your number?
  • Can you port your phone number?
  • Potential challenges of porting a number
  • Number porting vs call forwarding
  • How to port your number to Quicktalk?

What is number porting?

Phone number porting is the process by which you can retain a phone number while switching from one service provider to another. With this transfer, your connection with the first service provider is terminated and a new connection with the same number is initiated with the second service provider. To go back to the original service provider, you would need to port your number again. You can port numbers between landline services, mobile carriers and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers. 

To port your number, you must inform your current service provider and apply for a new connection with number porting from a new carrier. Processing may take up to a few days. Once the new carrier informs you that the number has been ported successfully, you can terminate your connection with the old service provider. 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandates that carriers must allow customers to port their numbers to a new carrier.

What to keep in mind when porting your number

Before you get started with porting your number here are a few things you should know.

You own your numbers

Whatever providers you contracted with, you own your numbers and have the right to port them to another provider. A service provider cannot retain your phone number against your will. 

Number porting regulations typically require providers to release your number upon request, allowing you to transfer it to another provider. This process is intended to provide customers with the freedom to switch service providers while keeping their existing phone number. However, it's important to note that there may be certain contractual obligations or outstanding balances that need to be resolved before a number can be successfully ported.

Ensure your phone number is active

In order to port a number from one carrier to another, the connection must be active. Hence, do not cancel your existing service. It’s a common mistake that businesses make. So ensure that you never cancel your service before the porting process is 100% done. However, you should look into the fees if any, required to terminate your contract and review these details.

Check Eligibility

All phone companies are required to offer number portability but, in some cases, it may not be possible. For example, when porting landline numbers, the area code must stay the same. This means you may find it difficult to port a landline number from New York to San Francisco. Similarly, there may be limitations with porting toll-free numbers. This is not a concern if you are porting your number to a VoIP service.

Unlock your device

If you want to use the same phone handset after porting your number, you may need to unlock it. This is typically required if you bought the phone with your current mobile service contract. Unless the phone is unlocked, putting a new SIM card in will not have any effect.

Organize your account information

To make the porting process quicker, make sure you have all your account information handy. Some of the details you will need are:

  • Account number
  • PIN
  • Billing address
  • Service address
  • Phone number
  • Extensions (if any)

Porting fees - How much does it cost to port your phone number?

Lastly, while phone service providers are required to offer number portability, they are free to charge for this service. Mobile service providers as well as some VoIP service providers charge a porting fee. Hence, make sure you read the fine print. 

For instance, Google Voice charges $20 to port your number from another carrier. Modern business phone systems such as Quicktalk offer free number porting. This varies from one service to the next. 

Some service providers may also charge a fee for closing an account.

How long does it take to port your phone number?

Porting a phone number can take up to 7 business days. However, in case of any irregularities in the documentation or existing account, it may take a few extra days.

How many times can you port a phone number?

You can port a phone number as many times as required.

How to cancel a port request?

In most situations, canceling a port request after you've initiated it can be done without any problems. Nevertheless, once a porting date is decided, it is usually too late to cancel. The exact steps and procedures vary depending on your specific service provider. It's always recommended to contact them directly to obtain accurate and up-to-date instructions for cancelling a phone number port request.

Also check 8 questions you need to check before switching according to Jane Laino.

Tips for a smooth phone number porting process

Here are some helpful tips to ensure a smooth phone number porting process:

  • Plan ahead: Start the porting process well in advance to allow sufficient time for any potential delays or issues that may arise. Avoid initiating the port request at the last minute.
  • Double-check information: Verify that all the information provided, such as your account details and phone number, is accurate and up-to-date. Any errors or inconsistencies can cause delays or complications.
  • Clear outstanding obligations: Make sure to settle any outstanding bills or obligations with your current service provider before initiating the porting process. Unresolved issues can hinder the porting process.
  • Maintain active service: Keep your current phone service active until the porting process is complete. Cancelling your service prematurely can lead to the loss of your phone number.
  • Communicate with both providers: Stay in contact with both your current service provider and the new provider to ensure smooth coordination throughout the porting process. This can help address any issues promptly and keep everyone informed.
  • Follow instructions carefully: Pay close attention to the instructions provided by both service providers. Follow the steps they outline and provide any necessary documentation or information promptly to avoid unnecessary delays.
  • Be patient: Porting a phone number can take time, and delays can occur due to various factors. Stay patient and allow the process to unfold. If any concerns or issues arise, communicate with the providers for clarification and updates.

Why should you consider porting your number?

When you port your phone number, you can switch from one service provider to another without the inconvenience of changing your phone number. You don’t have to give people a new number every time you move cities. Apart from the convenience of staying connected, there are several other reasons why you may want to consider number portability.

Switch to other mobile carriers with better service

When you move from one city to another, you may find that your original mobile carrier does not have a very strong network in the area or it’s missing business phone features. Porting your phone number to a service provider with better network coverage ensures you stay connected. You may also want to port your number to another service provider if they offer better plans and better features.

Switch to a virtual phone service provider for international connectivity

While your service provider would offer coverage over the entire country (though the quality may differ), they may not cover all international locations. If you travel abroad frequently, this can be an issue. The easiest way to overcome it is by switching to a VoIP phone service. 

VoIP service is not limited by state and country borders. As long as you have a working internet connection, you can make and receive calls, exchange messages and more with the same number from wherever you may be.

Disconnect your landline

The problem with landlines is having to run to them every time they ring. To make your life more convenient, you can port your landline number to a mobile carrier or VoIP service provider and ditch the handset. This is especially useful for small businesses.

Switch to a virtual phone service provider to quit carrying multiple mobile phones

Many mobile phones allow you to manage 2 phone numbers simultaneously, but, if you have a third number, you would probably need a second phone. A better alternative would be to port the third number to a VoIP service provider. This does not involve a SIM card and instead, you can make and receive calls with this number from an app on the phone.

Can you port your phone number?

Today, all telephone companies are required to give their subscribers the option to port their numbers. That said, number porting is possible only for active phone numbers. Some service providers may also insist on clearance of all dues from the account before porting the number.

Potential challenges of porting a number

Porting a phone number is easy but there are a few issues you may run into. Most of these issues can be easily resolved. Some of the challenges that could arise are:

  • The account is not in your name
  • There is a mismatch in the contact information
  • Your old connection has been terminated
  • You need a new connection urgently
  • You have a toll-free number
  • You want to port a landline number to a different location
  • You have an outstanding balance with your current provider

When it comes to porting numbers with special area codes or porting numbers internationally, the process may be slow and complicated with regular phone carriers. In such cases, porting your phone number to a VoIP service provider is simpler. These connections are not bound by geography and hence you could be using a phone number with a New York area code even if you were in Paris or Melbourne.

Number porting vs call forwarding

Both number porting and number forwarding allow you to receive calls on your original number though they may be connected through a different service provider. However, they are not the same.

Number porting is a permanent move of your phone number from one service provider to another. The connection is terminated by the first service provider and the number is now served solely by the second service provider. 

On the other hand, call forwarding is a feature by which calls made to a number are intercepted and directed to another phone number. Both numbers stay active in this case. This feature can be turned on and off to be used temporarily as per requirement.

How to port your number to Quicktalk?

Quicktalk gives you the option of keeping your existing number with a new Quicktalk account. To do this, you need to:

  • Set up a Quicktalk account with a temporary phone number from the list offered.
  • Once the account is created, email a number porting request to [email protected]

As long as the phone number is active and your documentation is in order, the porting process will be completed within a few days. You can then terminate the old connection. Your billing dates will be changed to the day your number was ported to the Quicktalk account.