With competition between wireless companies constantly increasing, it only makes sense that customers are willing to switch from provider to provider in search of cheaper plans for their devices. However, you may be concerned if your phone number will make the switch with you. The answer is yes…with some strings attached.
Thanks to a 2004 regulation, Wireless Local Number Portability, the Federal Communications Commission declared that consumers can keep their established numbers while switching providers. The primary caveat is porting your number from one local carrier to another, so moving to a different state or area code disqualifies a user from keeping their phone number.
The regulation also outlines other instructions for porting your number. A consumer can still port their number even if they have a remaining bill or debt with the previous company. Granted, you would still be responsible for paying it off, but you can still take your number with you if you are making a switch.
Another stipulation is that only the primary account owner can get the ball rolling and authorize a porting request. So, if you are a part of a family plan or use a company phone, make sure that you have the account holder help you with this process. Otherwise you will be out of luck and have to go through the rigmarole of learning a new number
Once you establish you want to change provider and take your number with you, what is the next step? First, decide which company you want to jump to and do not cancel your services with your previous company until talking to the new company about what you want to do. If the number has been deactivated by your old carrier, the new one cannot port it, so be sure to get your ducks in a row before cancelling your old plan.
After filling out the necessary paperwork with your new carrier, they will go ahead and contact your old provider to begin the porting process. The Wireless Local Number Portability regulation states that the porting process should not exceed 24-hours. But, if there are no snags hit along the way, the process could take merely a few hours.
If you want your phone to make the switch with you, you will need the ESN or IMEI number which can usually be found in the about tab of your phone or tablet. However, depending on the setup you had with your previous company, there may be additional costs with keeping your phone. It would be worth doing some research to see if there is a remaining balance on your phone before you own it.
The activation of your new service should cancel the previous one, but it is wise to go ahead and follow up with them to make sure. Also, this transition could have a fee attached, but most companies do not charge since there are other companies a new customer can head to instead. This is not set in stone so it is best to check with your new provider.
The process to switch providers while keeping your number is fairly easy. You just want to do some research on which new provider is best for you and what fees you might be responsible for with the old carrier for breaking the contract.