Keeping your existing phone and fax numbers when switching to a VoIP phone company is a little like sitting in a traffic jam—you’re not sure exactly what’s happening ahead, but you have to wait until someone else moves before you can do anything. It is perhaps the biggest stressor for most small business owners. The numbers are published everywhere, and if they stop working, it can be detrimental to business.
Porting is the industry term for moving your numbers from one provider to another. You may also hear people call it Local Number Portability (LNP). From your perspective, it isn’t highly technical, but it requires attention to detail to ensure the paperwork is correct.
(Incorrect paperwork = Port request rejections; Port request rejections = Big headaches and delays.)
Paperwork and patience
There are three parties involved in porting—you, the old phone company, and the new one. You fill out paperwork and give it to your new phone company. They submit more paperwork to the old phone company.
And then, you wait.
It can take up to four weeks for numbers to port, and it all depends on the old phone company. They review the submitted documentation and decide whether to approve or reject the request. When they approve the request, your new phone company gets a Firm Order Commitment (FOC) date—the day your numbers will officially port.
Preparation pays off
Gathering the correct information in preparation for porting will save time and decrease the likelihood of a rejection. Your new VoIP phone company will need the below information from you to initiate the porting process:
- List of numbers you’d like to port
- Copy of the most recent phone bill that includes the account number, owner/authorized user name, address and PIN for all the numbers
- Service address where the numbers will be used (physical address only; no PO boxes)
- A Letter of Authorization (LOA) signed by the authorized user and/or owner of the numbers (Note: The new phone company will provide the LOA you need to fill out.) The information on your LOA must match the name and address listed on your account with the old phone company.
Old phone companies can reject the port order for a variety of reasons. A few examples include: an address or zip code that doesn’t match the current record, a port request made by an unauthorized user on the account, or an incorrect PIN for an account. A rejection will add time to the process, so it’s important to verify account information before submission. (Remember that attention to detail!)
Your involvement in the porting process depends on the internet-based phone company you choose. Some companies require you to manage a majority of it and troubleshoot any roadblocks along the way. Others, like UpLync, a business phone service company, will try to make the process as stress-free as possible.