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

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

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, meaning you don’t have to get a new one.

Number porting lets you keep your existing landline, wireless or VoIP when you change to a new service provider, whether it is because of a relocation or a better service from another company.

So What is Porting?

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.

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

How Do You Get Started?

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, 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. And whatever you do, don’t terminate the old service before you start the service with the new company.

Contact the New 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.

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 It Cost?

According to the FCC, companies can charge to port your number, 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 any fees.

The FCC also says a company cannot deny to port your 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. It can take anywhere from hours for wireless services all the way up to 10 days for IP and landline.

Again, this will depend on the type of service you have with your old provider and the type of porting, so make sure to take this into consideration before changing to a new company.

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. This is the case in some rural areas, which will 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, make sure you port your number with you to continue that relationship.

Using Phone Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "What is Porting and What Does It Mean for Your Small Business Phone?" was first published on Small Business Trends

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