Great - you've chosen a new phone service for your business! A new phone system means new capabilities, especially if you've chosen a business VoIP service. Some advantages of switching to VoIP include: mobile softphones, video call links on your website, rich call data, and leading integrations with CRM platforms.
One of the first steps you'll have to take in your transition to the new service is moving your phone number(s) from your current provider. While this can be a tedious process, arming yourself with knowledge of the procedure, as well as some best practices, will help to ensure that your porting process goes quickly and smoothly.
Q: What is Local Number Portability?
The process of transferring a phone number from one service provider to another (landline, wireless or IP) is known as Local Number Portability, or LNP for short. The Federal Government mandated this ability, one of the many provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, to allow consumers to keep their phone numbers if they switched telephone providers and remain in the same geographic area. They also hoped that this would increase competition among the providers and reduce prices for the end consumer.
This protection has its limitations, however. The Federal Communications Commission website lists a couple of situations where porting a number may not be possible:
- If you are moving to a new geographic area.
- If you are using a rural wireline service provider. The site mentions that some of these providers may obtain exemptions from the LNP mandate from state authorities. As a consumer, you can contact your state public utilities commission for more info if this is the reason why you cannot port your number away.
If you are having trouble porting your business phone number to a new provider, check out our blog post for alternative solutions.
Q: What's the Typical Local Number Portability Process?
To begin the porting process, contact your new service provider and provide them with each 10-digit phone number you wish to have them port. You will likely have to give them a copy of your most recent phone bill (dated within the last 30 days), so have that ready beforehand. This bill provides the proof that you or your business owns the phone numbers that you want to port. Make sure the bill clearly lists:
- The customer or business name
- The billing / service address
- The phone number(s) to be ported
If you don't have a recent bill, you can request a Customer Service Record (CSR) from your current (losing) provider. The FCC also mandates that all telephone service providers must supply a CSR upon request by the customer. This document will list all of the above information.
Once you provide a proof of ownership document to your new service provider, they will follow up with a Letter of Authorization (LOA). Your new provider must have this letter on file - it's proof of you, as the phone number(s) owner, authorizing them to initiate the port and remove the number(s) from the current provider. Simply fill out the form, sign, date, and return it to your new service provider.
Once all of the paperwork is in, you just have to wait for the LNP process to complete!
Q: Are There Any Fees Involved?
Your new service provider will typically charge a fee for porting your number(s) to their database, and it will vary from provider to provider. This fee covers any paperwork that is involved in the local number portability process, as well as the staff's time for retrieving the numbers from your current provider. Trust us - it is an intricate process with a lot of moving parts!
If you are porting a large block of numbers, your new provider may offer discounted rates. If they don't offer it outright, it's worth it to ask for a discount.
The FCC site also lists other conditions regarding porting fees. One such provision is that your current provider cannot refuse to port your number away, even if you owe an outstanding balance or service termination fee (excluding the above-mentioned LNP limitations).
Q: Can I Port a Toll-Free Number to a New Provider?
Yes, you can port toll-free numbers to a new service provider.
Q: How Long Does the LNP Process Last?
Porting a local phone number typically takes 2 to 4 weeks, while porting a toll-free number typically takes 6 to 10 business days.
Tips and Best Practices
- Check with your current provider to find out if there are any early termination fees or outstanding balances that you have to pay for closing your account with them. Inform them that you will be porting away your phone number(s).
- Do not terminate the service with your current provider until after your numbers have been successfully ported to your new provider. This will ensure a seamless transition.
- While your LNP process is underway, set up the call routing rules with your new service, as well as any features that you require, such as voice mailboxes, auto-attendant menus, or ring groups. This will assure that when your numbers do port over, calls will route as you want them to in your new service.
- Ask your current provider to Remote Call Forward (RCF) the numbers that are being ported to new, temporary phone numbers on your new service. You should be able to purchase or obtain these numbers from the new provider. This process will forward all calls made to the numbers that are being ported onto temporary numbers with your new provider. Once all of your phone numbers have been ported, make sure to remove these temporary numbers from your account, unless you wish to use them for other purposes.
- Once your numbers have been successfully ported to the new phone service provider, cancel your service with your current (old) provider.