I have had a personal cell phone, with the same number, for over five years. I’ve used that phone number for nearly everything. All of my friends and family know it, I have various text message alerts and reminders come to it, and I’ve signed up for various services with that phone number. Needless to say, it would be a pain for me to get rid of that number. Impossible? No, but more work than I’d care to do.
The issue is that I recently received a corporate cell phone. I don’t want to carry two phones (the Batman utility belt never looked good on me) and porting my personal number to it wasn’t an option.
Luckily, Google Voice recently added a feature that has solved my problem nicely. You can now port an existing mobile phone number (not a landline number) to Google Voice (GV).
There is a $20 fee to port your number and it will replace your existing GV number, if you have one (the old number will still ring to your GV account for 90 days).
So, how does the process work?
IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure that your mobile service contract is up or that you are willing to pay the early termination fee (varies by company).
- In your Google Voice settings, there is an option to Change/Port your number. It will check if your number can be ported and will walk you through the process.
- If you are setting up a new GV account, there is an option during setup to port your number instead of choosing a new one.
- Once you accept all of the terms of service the porting process will begin and takes up to 24 hours.
- Google mentions that you may not be able to receive text messages at the ported number for up to three days.
- Until the porting process is complete, you should be able to continue to receive calls at your mobile phone.
- Once the porting process is complete, your cell phone service will be terminated and all calls to that number will be forwarded to whatever phones you have connected to your GV account.
You can have GV forward calls to multiple phones (i.e. your mobile, home, office, etc.). You can also setup rules that will ring particular phones at particular times or you can have it ring all of your phones at all times.
It’s also important to note that if your mobile phone is a part of a family plan, you should verify with your mobile company what will happen to the remaining phones on the plan. It is likely that if there are still multiple phone remaining on the plan, they will continue on the family plan. However, if there are only two phones on the plan and you will be dropping it down to one, you should definitely call your service provider to verify which single-phone plan the remaining phone will put on, so that you don’t have any surprises. Bottom line – verify things with your service provider. My provider didn’t give me any grief about what I wanted to do – they were actually quite helpful (AT&T, if anyone’s curious).
On another note, this can also be a good solution if you have moved to another area and have a need to get a phone with a local area code, but want to retain your old number.
More information is available at the Google Voice Number Porting FAQs.