Is Your Phone Number Portable?

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One of the main questions you have to ask yourself before deciding whether to port your number or not is whether the number is actually portable.

Porting your number from a POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) company to VoIP service is normally possible. But things get complicated when you want to port a number from a VoIP service to another one. This happens in two flavors:

  • You port your number from POTS to VoIP, and then to another VoIP service (you changed VoIP service).
  • You have a VoIP number and want to port it to another VoIP service.

In the first case, some POTS companies will allow you to port your number to a VoIP service, but not to port it out again to another VoIP service. Legally speaking, you do have the right to do that, but many people lose their numbers out of ignorance of this fact. According to regulations, you are the owner of your number, and you can decide to port it anywhere you want.

If you move to a place which your service provider does not cover, you will have to change service. Then you will not be able to port your number, because of the location.

When you start a service with a VoIP provider, the number you get is not your property (unlike with POTS). It is that of the service provider. This number is obviously not portable.

This is because the VoIP provider has to lease the number from a telecommunications service provider, which controls the switches used to route calls from the Internet to analog phone lines.

The number is therefore registered to the VoIP provider’s name. Number portability is possible only if billing name and address of the owner is the same. So, when you change VoIP service, you cannot port your VoIP number.

How to make sure your phone number is portable?

The best thing to do is to talk to the VoIP provider before starting a service with them.

Ask them about whether you can port your POTS number to them, and to another VoIP company should you need to change VoIP provider later.