Porting numbers & VoIP
Many people having switched their service to VoIP, are deciding to port their existing numbers to that provider. Businesses, who are dependant on keeping their same numbers which their customers already know, are also deciding to port their numbers. So as a helpful guide and resource we have included some information that may prove useful when trying to successfully port your numbers. Local Number Portability (LNP) allows US telephone customers to retain their telephone numbers and move them to other local service providers in most cases.
First some porting information.
FCC rules were established that obligated certain LNP (Local Number Portability) to interconnected VoIP providers. The rules required that interconnected VoIP providers ensure consumers are able to port telephone numbers to and from their services and may not obstruct or delay the porting process by demanding more information beyond the minimum needed to validate a requested port. As long as you remain in the same geographic area, you can switch telephone service providers, including interconnected VoIP providers, and keep your existing phone number. Porting your VoIP phone number.
CLECs typically own the numbers that most VoIP providers have, not the actually service provider that your VoIP account is with. A CLEC (Competitive Local Exchange Carrier) is a telecommunications provider company (also called the "carrier") that by providing its own network and switching, competes with other already established carriers, generally the ILEC (Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier). When you port from one VoIP company to another, in most cases the actual port occurs between the two CLECs associated or partnered with the VoIP companies. Good advice to help make the easiest ports would be to take the following actions:
- Know exactly how your number is being held, meaning the actual name and address it is listed under with the CLEC. In some cases the VoIP service provider may, for varying reasons have it listed under their name and address. By knowing beforehand exactly how it is listed and using that correct information on the LOA can facilitate a correct initial port request.
- Although most VoIP providers have customers porting out on an on-going process, try to choose a VoIP company that has fair stated policies on porting. If you see information form several people stating bad experiences of a company, steer clear of them. No one wants to have to battle for a port out request.
- Make copies and keep some back up records of your account. These records have a shelf life, so recent records are always best.
Porting numbers, the process.
The first steps are important to complete right away, so that the process starts quickly on a good footing.
You should always check with your new provider and follow their guidelines and paperwork requirements when starting the porting process, but in most cases that new provider is going to need a LOA (Letter of Authorization). An LOA is a document that authorizes the new VoIP provider to act on your behalf and make a request to your existing telephone provider to obtain your numbers. This document usually has a place for such information as name, address, telephone numbers and a signature and needs to be filled out and faxed to your new provider. Along with the LOA, many providers need a copy of a current phone bill. The reason for this is in actuality the bill will have much of the exact information on file with your current telephone company that must match the port request that the VoIP provider submits. These bills need to have an actual physical address displayed as PO boxes will be a problem.
After the request (LSR) has been submitted and everything is in order, the next major step is Awaiting FOC (Firm Order Commitment), a stage where the port request is in the works, but not yet has a completion date. But, if there is a problem or error it will be after the submittal and a rejection notice will be issued, usually with a reason code. Two major types of error codes are typical, one type that states that the number is not portable to the provider that you want to port to, and a second type that indicates a problem. Usually the first type of declines cannot be remedied by anything within your powers and include the following:
- The rate center is not complete. This means that the provider that you want to port your number to does not have that area ready yet to port numbers to, but will sometime soon.
- No ICA. The provider that you want to port to does not have an Interconnect Agreement in place with the telephone company that holds the number.
- Number is no longer in service.
The second type of declines include services on the line and these types of errors may be fixed or corrected in a way that will allow the number to be ported.
- There is a distinctive ring on the line.
- The line is a DSL line. Note: If DSL exists, unless the DSL provider allows Dryloop, an associated phone number is probably needed for that connection. Check with the DSL provider before attempting to port a DSL number.
- End user is already porting the numbers.
- The number has an existing pending order associated with it.
- Name and address are different that those on the request.
- Billing names do not match.
- Customer has requested a freeze be placed on the account that prevents the numbers from being ported.
- The service address is different than the address on the request.
- A toll free 800 number is being directed to the number being ported.
- Telephone number is already disconnected.
- Telephone number not found.
Complexities and unusual names and addresses listed (maybe that of the provider). On limited occasions after a decline of a port, (address mismatch) and a CSR comes back, it may have the VoIP provider's actual name and address instead of the original number's owner. This can happen if a bulk port of numbers occurred by your VoIP provider to move numbers from one carrier to another. The numbers in the bulk port are placed under a name and address of the VoIP provider. After the port takes place the numbers are listed with the new carrier under the provider's name. This can also complicate caller ID and the far end can show up as the provider, not the actual name of the original owner of the number.
Porting toll free numbers.
Telecom laws have been enacted that make a toll free number belong to the customer and not the phone company. This allows toll free numbers to be ported like other regular phone numbers, given that certain rules and conditions apply. In most cases, following the guidelines above, LOA and a copy of the phone bill should suffice to port your toll free numbers, but they normally take longer than traditional numbers to port.
"One of the most important steps in porting is to fill out the LOA correctly, making sure it is accurate and legible and fax it along with a complete phone bill to your VoIP provider."
"We like to create a smooth transition for both the business and home user."
How long should the process take?
Different VoIP providers vary, but a good rule of thumb would be as follows:
NOTE: New FCC mandates now state that LNP rules apply to VoIP providers. This includes porting out numbers as well as porting in numbers.
Normal phone numbers with the correct information
sent at the first submittal - 2 days (48 hours), as stated in the FCC
ruling, (although simple ports have been mandated to move within 1
business). This is the mandate, but reality is another
thing. Understand that a port request starts with your paperwork to
the winning side (your VoIP provider). The winning provider (your VoIP
provider) then submits your request to its CLEC (they are the actual holder
of numbers). That CLEC then submits the port request to losing
carrier's (CLEC). At that point the ball is in losing CLEC's court.
Your VoIP provider should then next notify the port requester customer (you)
when its CLEC notifies them of a pending porting date (FOC) or a rejection,
usually given with a reason code. The process has some typical built
in days, for example, your provider may not issue the request to their CLEC
for a day or two. Perhaps they try to get several together for
submittal. Additionally, remember that your VoIP provider wants to
complete ports quickly and easily, they just have to deal with the process,
- Toll free 800 numbers can vary, and although they use to take weeks to port, now are more likely able to port in a few business days, but many users still report that the process has taken 8-10 business days. (The process is getting faster and better.)
Important: The FCC has mandated new porting rules that dictate faster and more efficient ports and although these faster times are the rule, many companies, including a large portion of VoIP providers are going to take longer (Remember, the VoISP gets the request from the user and may take a couple of days to actually get it to the CLEC, (they should pass that request immediately, but in some cases may not do so).). We suggest that you talk with your prospective provider and discuss a realistic expectation of how long your porting process would be expected to take. Also it is important to remember, if the initial requests comes back; due to needing additional information or some error, the process time starts anew. The process as a whole has become more efficient and the FCC has taken steps to enact rules which are good for the consumer, but all things being what they are, real life still takes precedence.