If you are switching to voice-over-IP (VoIP) telephony from plain old telephones (POTs) or changing voice vendors, you are likely hoping to retain your business phone numbers after the switch. Keeping the same phone numbers for your business and employees can avoid confusion and related expenses, such as a need to update your website or print new business cards.
Fortunately, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules allow organizations to “keep their existing phone number” when switching providers, as long as they are remaining in the same geographic area. Unless your businesses’ VoIP switchover is coupled with a move to a new office location in a different area code, you should not have any issues retaining the same contact information. Join us as we review what businesses need to know about porting numbers to a new VoIP vendor.
1. Planning for Transition
Until the porting process is complete, you should not terminate service with your old provider, per the FCC website. You may notify them of intent to end service, but ensure you retain connectivity until the transition has taken place.
Once you’ve signed a contract with your new vendor, you should let them know that you plan to keep your numbers. Most VoIP vendors will ask for a list of all business phone numbers prior to installation and implementation day, which is critical information for a successful porting. Your new vendor may also request contact information or an account number for your old vendor, so they can communicate directly with them about the transition.
While some vendors may charge a small fee for porting, your former vendor is not allowed to “hold your numbers hostage” and prevent you from porting, even if you owe a small balance on your account at the time of transition. However, a successful porting process does not erase this balance.
2. Allow One Business Day for Porting
Per FCC guidelines, all “simple ports” must be completed during a single business day. Not all organizations qualify as having a “simple port,” which means it does not involve multiple phone lines or “complex adjustments to telephone switching equipment.” Communicating directly with your new vendor is the best way to gain insight into how long your porting process should take.
During the time when your phone lines are being ported, organizations may wish to advise their phone line users to contact emergency services using personal or company-provided mobile devices to avoid confusion. Your vendor can provide specific guidance on communications during the active porting process. However, policy and guidance for emergency service calls should be a critical part of change management during this process.
3. Notify the FCC of Any Issues
Occasionally, organizations will experience issues with a former or new VoIP vendor, including resistance to porting numbers or refusal to port numbers until the balances are satisfied. If your organization is in the U.S., it may be helpful to direct vendors who provide resistance to the FCC guidelines for a reminder on the rules governing the porting of numbers.
If you experience further issues, the FCC provides several avenues for official complaints and investigations. Customers have the option to complain by mail, phone or via an online form. However, due to the fact that porting numbers is an incredibly common aspect of switching communications providers, organizations should not experience much resistance when deciding to port their numbers to a new VoIP system.
Retaining the same contact information after switching VoIP providers is simple. Unless your business is moving, you have a right to retain the same contact information. With the help of a supportive VoIP vendor, you should face little resistance or difficulty – aside from a short period of transition – when moving your phone numbers to a new business communications provider.