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Local Number Portability: How to Keep Your Number When Changing Carriers



03 Oct 2016

Wireless Local Number Portability (WLNP or Wireless LNP) allows you to keep your original number while switching to a new service provider in the same metropolitan city. In some cases, Wireless LNP allows you to also move your phone number from a wired landline to your new wireless phone.  The service was made available nationwide in the United States in 2004.Local Number Portability


Who Should You Contact If You Want to Port Your Number to a New Carrier?

You must start the porting process by contacting the new service provider that you wish to change your number to. When porting a number, the FCC requires that your existing carrier must honor, and not refuse, a request to port a number - even if you have an existing unpaid balance with them. You must have a recent bill with up-to-date information, such as your name and address, when making a number porting request.

What Are the Fees Associated With Number Porting?

The fees incurred by porting your number vary on both the original service provider along with the new one.  It is important to note that your service provider cannot refuse a number port request due to outstanding bills. You should always question beforehand with each company whether they charge for inbound or outbound porting services. While the FCC doesn't regulate the charge that carriers impose on customers, they do state that all charges should be just and reasonable.

Will You Have to Pay a Fee to Break a Long-Term Contract When Porting Your Number?

Yes. While you may be considering porting your number, you should review your existing service agreement as you are still bound legally and may have to pay additional fees, such as early termination, to break the current contract you have with your service provider. As mentioned before, even if you have a balance with your original carrier, they cannot decline or delay the porting request once it has been submitted.

Is It Possible to Port a Wireline (Landline) Number to a Wireless Phone?

Yes. The process is possible, but it is done on a case-by-case basis.  Each carrier has different rules for porting phone numbers from a wireline number to a wireless number.  Some aspects of the wireline service do not carry over when porting, such as long distance service.  Currently, carriers do not have to port wireline numbers to wireless carriers. If you are told that you are not allowed to port your wireline number, the FCC instructs you to contact your state's public utility commission to find out if you can receive a waiver, which will allow customers to port a wireline number to a wireless phone.. The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) provides contact information for each state's utility commission. 

How Long Does the Number Porting Process Take?

The process of transferring a wireline number to a wireless number is generally short and should take about two and a half hours. However, the process of a wireless to wireless number port can take longer, with the process sometimes lasting several days. You will have to pay all fees associated with porting before the process is completed.

Will You Be Able to Use Your Previous Provider's Wireless Phone Once You Begin the Porting Process?

Most carriers recommend getting a new wireless phone when porting your number. As a reminder, you will be able to keep your phone number when transferring the service and getting a new handset, as long as you are in the same area. Many times some cell phone models are locked to their carrier's network. For example, a phone purchased with a Verizon contract may only be able to be used on Verizon's network and when porting off of the carrier a new cell phone is needed. 

Are Emergency Services Affected When Porting a Wireless Number?

There may be a period considered "mixed service" during the porting process. This service means that while your new service is setting up, your old phone may still receive calls until the process has finished. While you will always be able to dial 911, the operator may not be able to call you back after disconnection.

Porting Your Number to AT&T

To begin the porting process with AT&T, you will need the following:

  • The phone number that you wish to transfer
  • The account holder's name
  • Billing address for the account
  • Account holder's Social Security number or Tax ID
  • If necessary, PIN or Password

It is important not to cancel your existing service when transferring. AT&T will handle and communicate everything with your old carrier once you have purchased a new phone. You can contact your service provider to let them know that you wish to port your number out and to also see what charges you may incur from them.

While the porting service cannot be delayed, AT&T requires you to pay any outstanding balances before it begins. AT&T doesn't charge a number transfer fee, but they do charge a number change fee if you later decide to change your number. 

Transfer Timetables:

  • If you decide to transfer your number while visiting an AT&T store, the process usually takes 1-3 business hours.
  • If you complete the process online by purchasing a new phone or sim card, it could take up to 3-5 business days to complete. You are still able to use your old device until your new AT&T phone and SIM Card arrives.
  • If you're completing a wireline to wireless number transfer, it could take from 5-7 business days for the process to complete.

AT&T allows you to check online to see if your number is eligible for porting.

Porting Your Number to Verizon

To begin the number porting process with Verizon, you will need the following information:

  • Your existing number
  • Existing account number
  • If necessary, PIN number
  • Authorized signer's name
  • Contact phone number
  • Billing address

Verizon notes that if incorrect information is provided at any point that it could delay the porting process.

Verizon makes the porting process seamless online as you are able to choose your device plan and accessories, while also being given the option to activate or transfer your existing number. Verizon does not charge a specific fee for using their porting service.

Transfer Timetables:

  • For wireless number porting, the process takes 4-24 business hours.
  • For landline number porting, the process takes 2-10 business days

It's important to not disconnect or make changes to your existing service from your old carrier. You will be able to place calls with your new Verizon handset, but you won't be able to receive calls until the process is over.  When the port is finalized, Verizon will send a text message to your new phone notifying you that the service has finished. Your previous phone will no longer work.

Porting Your Number to T-Mobile

To begin the number porting process with T-Mobile they require the following information:

  • Your existing number
  • Existing account number
  • If necessary, PIN number
  • Authorized signer's name
  • Contact phone number
  • Billing address

One advantage that T-Mobile has on their competition, is the fact that they will pay early termination fees with your previous carrier. The company allows you to switch up to 10 lines under a postpaid contract.

Transfer Timetables:

  • For wireless number porting, the process should typically take two business days or less.
  • For transferring multiple lines, it can take up to 10 days but T-mobile notes the process is usually completed in six.

T-Mobile doesn't charge a fee to utilize their porting service. The service notes that you shouldn't cancel or make changes to your previous service provider until you receive a text message that the porting has finished.  You will have to personally contact your previous carrier to terminate the service.

Porting Your Number to Sprint

To begin the number porting process with Sprint, you will need the following information:

  • Name and address of the account holder on the previous service provider
  • Account number from the previous account
  • If necessary, PIN and/or Password from your previous service provider
  • Last 4 digits of your Social Security Number (SSN) or Tax ID

Transfer Timetables:

  • Wireless number porting can take as little as ten minutes when you receive your new Sprint device.
  • Landline number porting typically takes 2 to 5 business days.

Sprint asks that you do not cancel or make changes to your existing carrier during the porting process since only an active phone number can be ported. Sprint allows you to check the eligibility of up to five phone numbers that you would like to have on their network. 

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