Number Porting to a New VoIP Phone System: What You Need to Know
If I change phone service, do I have to change my phone numbers, too? We get asked that question a lot by our prospects and customers. If you are considering upgrading or switching your business phone service, you are probably concerned about number portability, too. Having to adopt a new phone number and extensions for your business may result in expenses, confused customers, a need to reprint business cards, and other headaches. Fortunately, unless your business is dramatically changing geographic locations, you should be able to retain your phone number. If you are upgrading to voice-over-IP (VoIP) or changing business phone providers, you are legally entitled to number portability.
What Are the Laws Surrounding Number Portability?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has firmly established the practice of local number portability. The law is designed to encompass traditional plain old telephones (POTS) providers, mobile lines, and VoIP. The FCC website states, "You can switch telephone service providers for wireline, wireless, or Voice over Internet Protocol and keep your existing phone number if you remain in the same geographic area."
If your former vendors are not allowing you to port your number or you are experiencing prolonged porting issues that either vendor is not willing to resolve, you are advised to contact the FCC directly to file a complaint. The porting process is designed to take place in one business day or less. The FCC can intervene directly on your behalf.
How Do I Port My Business Phone Numbers?
Business telephony clients can anticipate minimal variation in the process of porting telephone numbers when switching providers. The process is relatively simple, and a minimum amount of information is required by your new vendor. Both POTS and VoIP vendors will ask your business to follow a process that resembles the following.
1. Sign a New Vendor Contract
When you have selected a business voice vendor, you should state your intent to port your old numbers. As your new voice communications provider begins planning to implement your service, they can account for number porting on implementation day.
Communicate directly with your new VoIP or business voice vendor for guidance on terminating your phone contract with your former vendor. You should not terminate service until implementation day at the earliest. We believe a best practice is to wait until after service has been transferred and is working successfully.
2. Determine Whether There Are Porting Fees
Some vendors require a fee for porting numbers. This covers the technical and talent resources required to successfully port numbers, monitor the process, and perform quality testing after the porting is complete.
The FCC notes your former vendor is legally required to allow you to port, even if you have an outstanding balance for a terminated contract or service.
3. Provide Necessary Info to Your New Vendor
Your new business voice communications vendor will request a minimum amount of information necessary to complete the porting process, prior to implementation day. At this time, you will provide the following items:
- List of Phone Numbers: Provide a complete and up-to-date list of all business voice numbers associated with your organization that will be switched over to the new provider.
- Account Number: Providing the name of your former vendor and your company's business account number will allow your vendors to communicate directly on your behalf.
4. Allow One Business Day for Porting
The FCC requires the porting process reach resolution within the space of one business day. Your new voice communications vendor will schedule an implementation day, which will be used for setting up your new phone system and porting all numbers.
5. Plan for Emergency Services
During the one-day porting period, it is important to educate all members of your staff on business continuity and risk management best practices for this time. Should a 911 call be required, emergency services may not be able to call you back if a call is disconnected. You may wish to ask your employees to perform 911 calls from company-issued mobile devices or provide call-back numbers at the start of 911 calls during the day of porting.
Many clients are pleasantly surprised that number portability isn't just required by law, but it's a far easier process than anticipated. By communicating your desire to port your numbers with your business voice communications provider, you should experience continuity of communications within a single business day.
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