Can I Keep My Business Phone Number When I Switch to VoIP?

Even though the current business environment places a large emphasis on your business’ website and social media presence, there is still a great argument to be made that your phone number is still as important and relevant as it ever has been.

Your clients and customers have your phone number saved to their mobile phone contacts for quick access, it’s on your marketing materials and signage, and of course it is written on your business cards.

Despite what the others might say, it is out there in the world and important to your company!

Businesses and not-for-profits need to periodically update their phone systems and services, enabling new technology that makes connections easier and more efficient. In today’s distributed work environments, there’s a massive emphasis on remote working and mobility features. This has shined a light on the deficiencies of dated telephone systems which can’t keep pace with the more robust performance requirements of today’s business environment.

As you make these changes to your telecom infrastructure, it’s critical that you are able to simply and seamlessly transfer your business telephone number. Ina a very similar manner to when you switch cell phone carriers for your personal phone, you don’t want to have to send out a new number to all your contacts. Keeping it the same is much easier.

How do you switch business phone service provider?

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of the process, there is an aside worth taking note of.

With the demand for remote accessibility and features that we touched on above, many businesses are switching to VoIP phone systems instead (Voice over Internet Protocol). In brief terms, VoIP phone systems use the internet for communication rather than physical phone lines. This widens your options for easier access and communication, plus opens the door to increased capabilities since you aren’t relying on a traditional phone carrier for network management.

As an example, CSM South offers GoTo Connect: a cloud-based (or “Hosted”) VoIP phone system. It is specifically created to offer access to all the phone features you need, but with the flexibility and functionality of being completely online.

This type of system might be the best choice, especially if your business is at a crossroads and ready to make a change in business phone systems or carriers.

Here’s a closer look at how changing carriers works:

  1. Fist, you will want to double-check and confirm that your current phone number is eligible for porting (able to be transferred). Almost every time, it is, but there may be certain contractual details with associated penalties that you need to be aware of. Additionally, if you’re moving to a new geographic regions at the same time (even if it is in teh same city or county) it might not be possible to retain the same number, though this is rare.
  2. Second, do not make any changes to your account or service with your current carrier. Also, ensure you keep your phone active right through the process and do not cancel any service before completely switching the number as this might cause you to lose the number altogether.
  3. Next, a letter of authorization (LOA) will be sent to the new carrier as part of your transfer request.
  4. Finally, you will then have to wait for confirmation, and for a “firm order commitment (FOC)” outcome. This simply means that the request has gone through and your number is approved to port, or transfer, to the new carrier. If you receive notice of a “Jeopardy,” “Locked,” or “Canceled” status, that means that either insufficient information was provided to your existing carrier about the transfer, or that it was rejected altogether. This will require going back to the losing (current) carrier and gathering additional information.

How to port a phone number

In telecom, the term “Porting” refers to the process of formally transferring your phone number from your current phone service provider to another.

This porting process is always accomplished between two carriers, with the new, or “winning party” managing the process directly with the old, or “losing party”. In most cases, since they’re gaining your business, the new provider is pleased to help or help you every step of the way. It’s important to note that you can’t do this yourself: you must have a specific FCC license, which all telecom carriers possess.

Also, as we mentioned early on and really cannot repeat enough, it is very important to check your existing contract carefully. The “losing,” previous carrier will sometimes try to charge a porting fee. If you need are aware of your rights and obligations under your contract, you may be able to avoid, or at least negotiate, any termination fees.

Can you keep your business phone number?

The takeaway here is that it is absolutely possible, but it needs to be carefully approached and planned, along with the required help of an FCC-licensed professional. Know your current contract and obligations and keep them in mind. Finally, be sure that your new carrier is able to assist with a smooth transition away from your current provider.

If you have more questions about your business phone system options, VoIP, or porting, contact us at CSM! We would be very pleased to assist you with the entire process.