Switching to a VoIP number is almost always going to be cheaper than hanging onto that old landline—and that’s just one of the many benefits.
But is it actually safe to use a VoIP number? Will you lose your phone number? Will the quality of the calls be as good? And what’s the process of switching like?
We’ll walk you through everything you need to know so you can safely switch to a VoIP number, keep your old number, and get the flexibility and cost savings offered by VoIP.
How VoIP Porting Works
VoIP number porting is a process in which you move your phone number from your current provider to a VoIP service provider. You can do this whether you’re currently working with a traditional phone company or with a VoIP service provider, and it’s usually pretty fast and easy.
People usually choose to switch to a VoIP number when they’re unhappy with their current service, are switching locations, or simply want the savings that a VoIP service can provide. Choosing to port your number rather than simply switching numbers is convenient, and if you’re porting a business number, it’s essential if you want to ensure continuity of service with your customers. (Not to mention avoiding printing a whole bunch of new business cards!)
VoIP porting is fairly straightforward and doesn’t require you to have any special technical know-how.
The process starts with a Letter of Authorization (LOA), which you’ll create. This allows your new VoIP service to work with your old service provider.
Once your VoIP service provider has your LOA, it’ll create what’s called a Local Service Request (LSR), which tells the old service provider to start the process of porting your number to your new service. The VoIP service sends the LSR to its Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC), which is the company that actually owns the phone numbers.
The VoIP’s CLEC will then send the LSR to your old service provider’s CLEC, along with your LOA and any other documentation it requires, like proof of your identity. The CLEC that’s set to lose you as a customer may look for reasons to reject the request. If it can’t find one, then it’ll issue a Firm Order Commitment (FOC), which gets sent to your VoIP provider and includes the date at which your number will be changed over.
Benefits of VoIP Number Porting
- You get to keep the same phone number even if you change providers
- VoIP services are almost always cheaper than other phone carriers, especially landlines
- Customers can call the same number they’ve used in the past, and you don’t need to print new marketing materials or business cards
- VoIP services are incredibly flexible. If you end up with one that’s not a fit, you can easily switch
- Switching to a VoIP service makes it much easier to scale your team—you can usually add new users with just a few clicks
When You Can’t Port a Number to VoIP
Most of the time you should be able to port your number. In fact, the Federal Communications Commission requires that phone service providers port their numbers as long as you stay within the same geographical area, also called a rate center.
That being said, there are a few reasons you might run into trouble if you’re trying to port your number. The first and most common one is that your number is no longer in service. If you’ve let your service lapse, you’ll have to get it restarted before you can port your number.
You should also check your contract with your current carrier. There’s a possibility that you’ve signed a contract that prevents you from porting your number, or requires you to pay a fine if you do.
Most other issues you might run into come down to paperwork errors. If there’s any issue with the information on your LOA, or if you accidentally put down the wrong number, the CLEC may have grounds to reject your request. It’s important to make sure that your service address is written down correctly, and that it’s the same service address on file with both your old provider and your new provider.
More rarely, you might run into some issues with the VoIP service, like your new service not having coverage in the area you want to move your number to, or not having an interconnection agreement with your current carrier. This usually only happens with very new companies, so as long as you’re going with an established VoIP provider, you should be fine.
Finally, if you’re doing something complex, like trying to port a number from outside the US, trying to port a number that’s attached to call forwarding or a similar setup, or trying to port a Dry Subscriber Line (DSL), you might have to work with your VoIP provider to complete the process.
How to Port Your Number to a VoIP Service
Porting to a VoIP number mostly consists of filing paperwork and avoiding a few common errors. You’ll need to find a new provider, put together your LOA, and then let the companies handle the rest.
1. Find a reputable VoIP Provider
The VoIP industry is growing fast, which means you have lots of options when it comes to choosing your new service provider. But it also means you need to be careful in choosing the right provider to fit your needs. Be sure to do your research and comparison shop the best business VoIP phone services so you get it right the first time.
Outside of meeting your specific needs, make sure the company you choose has been in the industry long enough to develop a good reputation. Nextiva, RingCentral, and Ooma are a few of our favorites.
2. Don’t cancel your existing service
This is perhaps the most important part of the whole process. Without your number being in service, the porting process can’t even start, so make sure to keep your current service active. Your new service provider will let you know when the process is complete, so wait until then to make any changes.
If you’re really desperate to port a number quickly, you can work with your new VoIP provider to get some temporary numbers, and then forward calls from your old number to those new numbers until the porting process is complete. Number porting usually doesn’t take that long though—usually a couple of weeks, at the longest—so it might not be worth it for such a short amount of time.
3. Create your LOA
You’ll need to prepare some paperwork before you can start the porting process, so be sure to set aside some time to gather all necessary information:
- Your name
- Your billing address
- Your current phone number
- The name of your new service provider
- Your new VoIP phone numbers
- The name of your old service provider
- Your account number with the old service provider
- Your account PIN, if you have one
- A copy of your current phone bill or invoice
- Copies of your ID
You’ll then create a Letter of Authorization that states your name, billing address, and current number, and says that you want to port your current number from your old company to your new company at your new VoIP numbers. You should also include your account number and PIN.
Your VoIP service provider may provide you with a template for your LOA. If so, be sure to review it carefully just in case they ask for additional information.
4. Provide your new carrier with your LOA and supporting documentation
Once you’ve completed your LOA, send it to your new service provider along with your latest phone bill and copies of your ID. They may ask for other supporting documentation as well, like your social security number or your tax identification.
From here, it’s all in the hands of your phone service provider, so as long as you maintain your service until they notify you that the port has been successful, you should be good to go. Once you hear back from them, you can cancel your existing service and enjoy the flexibility and savings of your new VoIP number!