Porting a phone number to VoIP is simple. It may not seem like that at first sight, though.
If you’re considering porting your landline number to VoIP, or your current VoIP number to a new service provider, you’re right to be cautious. After all, a simple mishap during the process could wall you off from your current number, leaving you with a new, unknown phone number instead.
In any case, porting a phone number, be it landline or VoIP, and being caught between two companies and two different technologies sounds like a complex and long-winded process.
However, if you follow a very specific order of operations, you can port your VoIP number quickly and successfully.
To start, make sure your actual provider allows you to port your number, and then choose a provider that will also allow you to port your number. Once you’re certain you can port your number, you’ll need to follow the outlined steps in the correct order.
We’ll provide a detailed guide so that you can do this correctly without panicking.
How to Port a Landline Number to VoIP
What does porting a landline to VoIP mean exactly?
It’s simply transferring your current phone number from a traditional landline service provider to a VoIP service provider. Many people decide to do this because of VoIP services’ flexibility and low costs. Porting allows you to keep your long-familiar number while enjoying these benefits.
If you’re open to switching your landline to VoIP, it’s a good idea to get in touch with both your current and future service providers. Your current provider will need to release your phone number, and your new provider will request it.
Let’s get started with the steps you’ll need to follow:
- Notify your current service provider: This step is very important because they’ll generate a Port PIN for you, or tell you how to obtain one, usually on a website. The Port PIN, also known as Port-Out PIN, ensures no one else uses your phone number while you migrate. There are entire online communities squatting on expired website domains, and you wouldn’t want to be victim to a similar group that instead takes on your old, well-known phone number. Will you be able to port if you don’t notify your current provider? Since your new carrier wants the business, they could sort this step out for you, but you can expect a slower process.
- Select a new VoIP service provider: Pick a VoIP service provider that fits your needs and your wallet. There are plenty of options to choose from, so do some research to find the one that’s right for you. Make sure they allow porting as well. In case this provider doesn’t work out for you, you can always migrate, provided they can port. Should you cancel your current contract by now? Absolutely not. Wait until your new provider is set up.
- Contact your new VoIP provider: Contact your new VoIP provider and tell them you want to start porting your number with them.
- Provide the required information: To make the porting process go smoothly, you’ll need to give some information to the new VoIP provider. They’ll probably ask for things like your current phone number, your current provider’s account details, and payment information, provided you haven’t first registered on a landing page.
- Fill out a Letter of Agency (LOA): Sometimes, you’ll need to sign an LOA, which stands for Letter of Agency. (It’s sometimes known as Letter of Authorization.) This document gives your new VoIP provider permission to port your phone number from your old provider. VoIP companies want business, so they usually take care of the LOA for you and just email you a form you can e-sign. If they request you to send it over, ask them what info you should include. Since LOAs require your signature, they act as proof that it’s you who’s requesting the change. It’s also a legal record of to whom and when you requested a port. If you’re unfortunate enough to be surprise-delivered with a new number, the LOA will work to your advantage when you file a complaint. It’s a convenient way to protect your interests.
- Expect to wait: Porting your number typically takes a few days, but it can sometimes take up to two weeks. A carrier must submit a preferred carrier change request on behalf of a subscriber within 60 days of obtaining a Letter of Agency, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This does not mean they should migrate in two months, but they’re at least compelled to start the process by then. Be ready for a short break in service while things get switched over, but your new VoIP service will soon be up and running. To avoid delay, make sure you give both your old and new service providers the correct information on the LOA. Mistakes in your details could cause the porting process to take longer.
- Minimize potential issues: To avoid any hiccups during the porting process, double-check that all the information you give is accurate and matches what your current provider has on file. Also, keep in touch with both providers often. It’s better to be overinformed than under.
- Cancel with your old provider: Cancel your legacy landline provider once you’re confident your number is working on VoIP.
- Start the porting process at least two weeks before your desired switch date. This will give your old and new providers enough time to complete the process and minimize any downtime.
- Have your account information from your old service provider ready when you contact your new provider to initiate the porting process. This will help to speed up the process.
- Keep a copy of your LOA for your records.
- Be aware that there may be a fee associated with porting your number. Your old service provider typically charges this fee.
If you’re not handed an LOA template, and you need to write one up, you should include:
- Your name and current phone number.
- The name of your new service provider, since your new provider will use this letter on your behalf.
- The name of your old service provider and, most probably, the Port PIN.
- Your account number with the old service provider, if you had one. Many carriers use an email or phone number as your account number these days.
- Besides the LOA, you might be requested with a bill from your current carrier and your ID, so have both at hand.
How to Port a VoIP Number to a New Provider
The process of porting a VoIP number to a new provider is fairly similar to the landline-to-VoIP migration process. In any case, VoIP companies are usually smaller, and therefore more nimble. So, of the two scenarios, this should be the easiest to go through because you’ll probably get better attention.
These are the steps you should take to port your VoIP number to a new provider successfully:
- Research and choose a new provider: Do some research to choose the best VoIP service provider for you. Don’t forget to pick a provider that can and will port your number. If you decide on a provider that offers low-cost solutions but won’t allow you to use that phone number without them, you may set yourself up for a future headache.
- Contact both your old and new provider: Many VoIP providers don’t offer a Port-Out PIN, but you should still connect with them to tell them you’re off their service. Some providers offer a Support email address for this. You can connect with your new provider immediately after.
- Prepare your information: Have everything you need ready when getting in touch with your new provider. Gather your current VoIP account details, including your account number and PIN, if you had one. Your new provider may also require a LOA.
- Complete paperwork: Fill out any necessary paperwork provided by your new provider. Be sure to double-check the accuracy of the information. It’s better to double-check than to start all over again because of a small error.
- Await confirmation: You’ll get a message from your new provider when the porting process is all done. How long it takes can vary, from a few business days to a few weeks. The FCC has a category known as “simple ports.” If you fall under this class, your provider is expected to complete the porting process in a single day.
- Test your new service: Once your number has been successfully transferred, give your new VoIP service a little test drive to make sure it’s working just the way you want it to. Go ahead and make some calls and check if everything’s working as it should.
- End the contract with your old provider: Cancel your current provider only once you have already initiated the porting process with the new one. Be prepared to provide your porting request and confirm the cancellation date.
Don’t worry if porting your VoIP number seems a bit tricky at first. With the right info and a little help, it’s totally doable. Your new provider wants the business, so try to rely on them as much as possible. You could ask them for an electronic LOA you can just punch your name on.
What Prevents People from VoIP Number Porting
When it comes to moving your VoIP number, there are rules in place to make sure that most of the time, carriers have to comply with your request. The FCC has very specific rules so that carriers can’t simply refuse your porting request. So, yes—if things went by the book, the “no porting available” situation shouldn’t exist.
But like in any rule book, there are a few exceptions where you might run into some bumps trying to port your VoIP number.
Which are these special cases?
- Contractual obligations: If you already have a contract with your current provider, you might have to pay extra fees or follow certain rules if you want to move your number to a new service. Before you start the porting process, look at your contract to see what you need to do.
- Account balance: Before you port your number, make sure to pay off any outstanding balances with your current VoIP provider. Carriers may not release your number for porting until you’re paid up.
- Incomplete information: Missing or incorrect information can delay or even prevent your number from being ported. Make sure you have your account information from your old service provider ready when you contact your new provider to initiate the porting process.
- Disputes with current provider: If you have a dispute with your current provider, it may delay or prevent your number from being ported. For example, the dispute could be over an unexpectedly steep bill from months ago. This can be frustrating, but you’ll want to resolve this so you can get the porting process started.
- Geographic restrictions: Not all VoIP providers offer service in all areas. If you’re going to use VoIP at an international scale, you might want to check twice how the provider’s infrastructure will work with your target locations. Generally speaking, geographic restrictions on VoIP are something of the past. It might happen, though, that your VoIP service can’t offer an inbound customer number for a particular country, so that should be your focus.
You’ll soon notice that most of these challenges are the ones you’d expect to show up when switching from a new utility to another, or when changing your ISP at home. In a worst-case scenario, you could be stuck in limbo when company A has to transfer the custody to company B. Fortunately, the FCC has regulated the process, so you shouldn’t experience any long-term obstacles that prevent you from porting your number.