The following information is taken from the FCC website and is for informational purposes only.
Under the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) “local number portability” (LNP) rules, so long as you remain in the same geographic area, you can switch telephone service providers, including interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers, and keep your existing phone number. If you are moving from one geographic area to another, however, you may not be able to take your number with you. Therefore, subscribers remaining in the same geographic area can switch from a wireless, wireline, or VoIP provider to any other wireless, wireline or VoIP provider and still keep their existing phone numbers.
Initiating the Process
If you want to change companies:
- Do not terminate your service with your existing company before initiating service with the prospective new company.
- Contact the new company, which will start the process of porting your number by contacting your current company. Be prepared to provide the new company with your 10-digit phone number, customer account number, and five-digit zip code. If you had created a passcode to protect your account, you may also need to provide that passcode.
- Be aware that when terminating service with a wireless company, you may be obligated to pay any early termination fees under your existing contract. Also, when terminating service with any company, you are usually required to pay any outstanding balance owed. Review your bill or contract to determine what fees or charges apply. Once you request service from the new company, however, your old company may not refuse to port your number, even if you owe money for an outstanding balance or termination fee.
- You may request service from a new company at any time.
Fees and Charges
- Companies may charge their customers fees to recover the costs that they incur in providing number portability. Fees may vary between companies, and some companies may not charge any fees.
- Companies may not refuse to port a number because a consumer has not paid for porting.
- When considering a switch, consumers should ask the new company whether it charges any number portability fees and whether those fees can be waived.
The Porting Period
The FCC has changed its number porting rules to shorten the porting period for “simple” ports from the current four days to one business day. The new deadline applies to all simple ports, including “intermodal” ports such as wireline to wireless, wireless to wireline, wireline or wireless to VoIP or any other combination. Simple ports generally do not involve more than one line or more complex adjustments to telephone switching equipment. Wireline, wireless and interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers are required to meet this new, simple port deadline, which will take effect in late summer 2010 for most carriers. Small, rural carriers have a longer period, until the beginning of 2011, to meet the new porting deadline.
If you port from a wireline phone to a wireless phone, there may be a period of “mixed service” – when you essentially have two telephones with the same number. Ask your new wireless company whether you will be able to continue using your current wireline number during the one day transfer process. Also, if you port from a wireline phone to a wireless phone, your wireline long distance company will not move with you. Your long distance service will generally be provided by your new wireless company, but you should verify this with the new wireless company before changing service providers.
In some areas, 911 operators automatically receive the phone number or location of a wireless call, but in many areas, that is not the case. Technology that will provide that information – Enhanced 911 or “E911” – is currently being implemented, but is not yet available for some wireless phones and in some parts of the country.
As noted above, during the one day porting process from the old company to the new company, there may be a period of “mixed service” - when you may have two telephones with the same number. During this time period, your E911 service may be affected. The call should go through, but the 911 operator may not be able to call you back if the call gets disconnected. For this reason, before porting either a wireless or a wireline number, ask the new company if the one day porting process will affect a 911 call.