What is Number Porting and What Does It Mean for A Small Business Phone?

What is Porting and What Does It Mean for Your Small Business Phone?

Number porting is a very important concept when you relocate or switch to a better phone service provider.

As a small business, continuity is a challenge when you move to a new location.  While the physical move will displace some of your customers until they get used to the new location, your phone number can come along with you. In short, you don’t have to get a new number.

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The same goes for switching phone service providers. You need to maintain continuity of your phone service.  This is where porting your phone number to the new phone provider is crucial.

The right provider makes this easy and works with each customer to ensure they are able to carry on business as usual while their numbers port over.

Nextiva Growth Marketing Manager Cameron Johnson suggests looking for a company known for providing both scalable solutions and reliable customer service, in addition to a healthy product roadmap that will suit your needs well into the future.

Johnson adds, “Partnering with the right provider will ensure not only a flawless setup, but, with a provider like Nextiva, you’re guaranteed a customer service team that is passionate about delivering solutions that best fit your business.”

What is Porting a Phone Number?

Phone number porting, or porting, is the ability to keep your existing number if and when you decide to move your phone service to another provider or switch locations.

It’s really a simple concept.  You transfer your phone number from one telephone service to another.

And you have the legal right to do so.  According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), if you want to switch to another service provider and you are staying in the same geographical area, you can keep your existing phone number. And the process can be carried out between wireline (landline), IP phone and wireless providers.

How Do You Get Started Porting Your Phone Number?

As a business you may have more than one number, and you can choose to port any or all of the numbers.

But before you do, and to avoid loss of service, make sure you go over your current contract to determine your liabilities.

Look at your contract to see if there are any early termination fees as well as balances you have to pay before you end your services. That way, you won’t get surprised by termination fees after you’ve committed to move.

And whatever you do, don’t terminate the old service before you start the new phone service, so to avoid a gap in service or losing your number.

Contact the New Phone Service Company

Once you meet your obligations of your previous contract, contact the new company to start the process of porting your number.

This requires providing your 10-digit phone number and any other information the company may require. This will vary from provider to provider.

Today, with a good service provider the process of porting your phone number is easy. Unlike 15 years ago when porting a phone number might involve paper and faxing, today the process is usually electronic.  For example, companies like Nextiva use an electronic signature app so you can apply to port a number online with no hassle.

Generally, a Letter of Authorization (LOA) must be filled out and signed by the authorized user for your current provider to begin the porting process, along with the most recent and correct Billing Telephone Number (BTN).

How Much Will Porting Your Number Cost?

Usually there is no charge today.

According to the FCC, companies can charge to port your number if they choose, and the fees can vary from provider to provider. The agency’s website says you can ask for a waiver or negotiate the fees.  However, most of the major operators don’t charge separate porting fees today.

The FCC also says a company cannot deny you to port your phone number because you have not paid for porting. When you request the service of a new company, the FCC says the old company cannot refuse to port your number. This is even if you have any outstanding balance or termination fee.

How Long Does it Take to Port a Number?

This will depend on how many phone numbers you have, the operator, and the type of service, such as landline, wireless and IP.  The FCC website contains the following statements:

  • For a wireless-to-wireless transfer, the porting process should take approximately two and a half hours from the time the porting request is made of the old carrier. The FCC has not mandated a specific time frame for the wireless-to-wireless porting process. Two and a half hours is the time frame agreed upon by the wireless industry, and the FCC encourages carriers to use that time frame.
  • A wireline-to-wireless port will probably take longer to complete, and could take several days. Before porting between wireline and wireless phones, consumers should ask their new service provider how long the process will take.

The Transition Period

The FCC warns there will be a transition period in which you will have two numbers when you port from wireline to a wireless number. The agency recommends users to ask if you will continue to use your current wireline number during the transfer process, however long it takes.

This is important because wireless 911 location and call back services can be affected during the transition. The FCC wants you to ask your new company if your 911 service will be affected during the process.

Another service that will be impacted during the transition period is long distance service. Your landline or wireline long distance company is not going to move with you, so make sure your new company has a plan you can live with.

You Can’t Always Port Your Number

The FCC says it is not always possible to port your number to a new geographic area when you change providers.

Also, some rural areas require you to contact your state public utilities commission for further information.

Small Business Identity

Your business phone number is one of the identifying features of your company. Just like your address, logo and other identifying features, your number, especially if it is a vanity number, is a great way for your customers to identify with you and build a relationship.

So if you have to move or switch phone service providers, make sure you port your number with you to continue that relationship.

Using Phone Photo via Shutterstock 6 Comments ▼

Michael Guta Michael Guta is the Assistant Editor at Small Business Trends and currently manages its East African editorial team. Michael brings with him many years of content experience in the digital ecosystem covering a wide range of industries. He holds a B.S. in Information Communication Technology, with an emphasis in Technology Management.

6 Reactions
  1. I remember when switching cell phone providers meant getting a new number, but this makes things so much better for consumers. One instance where a simple regulation really helped.

  2. Hi Robert,
    I agree, it is great all around.

  3. Really useful for business. Changing numbers can somehow confuse old customers especially since they already have your old number. This is nice.

  4. I can see how porting can help businesses for it will help them retain their number. I agree that this is beneficial to old customers as they will already have your number with them.

  5. Is porting only possible if you ask for it? Can’t you do it by yourself?

    • Hi BizEpic,
      It requires a lot of back-end work customers don’t have access to between the service providers.

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