Wireless Number Portability: Keeping Your Phone Number When You Switch Service Providers
Wireless number portability means that you can keep your phone number when you change from one wireless company to another; or from a landline phone company to a wireless company (and vice versa). However, if you move out of your local exchange area, you may not be able to keep your number. Typically, a local exchange area covers a community, town or city.
Wireless number portability is available everywhere wireline number portability is available.
If you want to keep your number, don't cancel it
You have to ask your new service provider about keeping your phone number before you cancel your current service. You can only keep your present phone number if it’s currently being used. You can keep your phone number if you switch:
- from one wireless service provider to another wireless service provider
- from a landline phone line to a wireless service provider
- from a wireless service provider to a landline phone line carrier, if the location to be served by your telephone number is within the local exchange area for your telephone number.
If you move out of your local exchange area at the same time as you change service providers, you may not be able to keep your number. Ask your new service provider whether you can keep your number.
Voice over IP (VoIP) is a technology that provides telephone service. So, number portability applies to VoIP users. This means that you may be able to keep your phone number when switching between VoIP, landline or wireless services.
Wireless rates, costs and fees
Wireless service rates are not regulated. Service providers can charge you when switching your telephone number to a different service provider, and these fees can vary by service provider. Also, keep in mind that when you change service providers you may have to buy a new cell phone that is compatible with their wireless network.
Before switching, ask about local and long-distance call plans, because companies may have different billing practices and rates. For instance, you may not be able to your landline phone's long-distance plan and you may need a different plan or a different arrangement to make long distance calls.
Whenever you change service providers, you may still have a contract with your current service provider. Check your service agreement to find out whether you’ll have to pay any penalties for switching before the end of a term.
How long to complete a transfer
Ask your new service provider when your phone number will change. When switching between wireless providers, the transfer takes a few hours. When switching between a landline and wireless (and vice versa) it takes at least 2 business days. Some of your phone features may be interrupted while your phone number is being transferred, but you should be able to make and receive calls during that time.
When you’re switching your number from one wireless provider to another, there should be no disruption to your 911 service. However, when you’re switching from a landline to wireless service (and vice versa), your 911 service may be affected. Ask your new service provider what level of 911 service they provide and any limitations that may exist.
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