What is phone number porting?
Number porting is the process of moving your phone number from one provider to another. That could be a PSTN or ISDN number to a UK VoIP provider or a mobile phone number from one provider to another.
There are two methods of porting to be aware of, local number porting and mobile number porting. As we tend not to get involved with mobile phones at T2k, we’ll concentrate on the former, local number porting for this article.
Why change phone services?
There are many reasons you might change your phone service, but perhaps the most significant is that in 2025 BT will be switching off its PSTN and ISDN networks. That means that every business in the UK will need to switch to VoIP before then.
Assuming you’re working with a good provider, the process is relatively straightforward, but be careful and make sure you go with a company that you trust. Your precious business phone numbers will be in their hands.
Do you need to port your phone number?
The first question you need to ask yourself when moving to a new phone provider is whether you need to retain your existing phone numbers. Many services such as our own will give you free VoIP numbers, so you may not need to keep your existing ones. If, for instance, your customers don’t particularly use your number, and it’s not printed on stationery, then perhaps you can live without it? That said, there typically isn’t a high cost for porting your number, so if you think you might need it, then it’s inexpensive to do.
Benefits of number porting
As a business, you’ll probably already appreciate the benefits of porting your phone number to your new VoIP service, but let’s highlight those just in case.
Move phone providers without needing to informing your customers.
The most obvious and significant benefit of porting your phone number to your new phone provider is that you won’t need to communicate a change of number with your customers. Most businesses will have business cards, letterheads, brochures and more, not to mention websites and social media! By porting your telephone number to your new VoIP provider, you avoid the need to update all of your stationery and your digital presences too. This on its own can save you a small fortune, not to mention preventing customers from calling the wrong number.
Protect your brand
Phone numbers can often become part of a company’s brand image, especially if they are memorable. Suppliers, customers and more will know your phone numbers and have them saved in their contact lists. Porting protects your brand image but ensures consistent service and minimal disruption.
Save time and money.
Porting your phone numbers to your new VoIP service will save you time and money. Rather than asking an admin assistant and the marketing team to update everything, they can concentrate on what matters.
How number porting works
There are several steps your T2k account manager will walk you through when porting your phone number to VoIP or SIP. These are:
- Supply us with copies of existing bills to confirm current number ranges and account numbers.
- Sign an order form to confirm acceptance of porting charges and terms.
- Complete a letter of authority (LOA) on company headed paper documenting permission to port numbers the old to the new provider.
- Please sit back and let us do the rest.
It’s important to note at this point that if any of the details are incorrect, the port can be rejected, and the process slowed down. Your T2k account manager will be on hand, though to double and triple check details before a port is put in place.
Once we’ve submitted your port request, we will get a date for the switch back from your provider, and you’ll then be able to communicate that with staff and clients, informing them there could be some disruption on the day.
What to be aware of when porting phone numbers
Every standard phone line (PSTN) in the UK needs a number assigned to it to work. If a number is ported to another service, the line that it was on will be ceased. While on the face of it, this may not seem like an issue, especially if you’re switching to a cloud-hosted VoIP service, you need to bear in mind that your phone will often be used to provide your internet connection too. Porting the number will therefore lead to the line being ceased, and your broadband cut off too.
The key with porting phone numbers, whether ISDN or PSTN, is working with a phone provider with experience in making these changes and, importantly, one that is responsive should you need to contact them. As tempting as it is to go for some of the bigger VoIP providers on the market, the trouble is you tend not to get a dedicated account manager, and speaking to some when you need to can be difficult.
All T2k customers get a dedicated account manager who is based in our Dorset office. We’re not a big faceless organisation; indeed, if you’re down in our neck of the woods, you’re always welcome to pop in and meet the team in person.
Avoid ceasing your line too soon.
When moving to a new provider and porting your numbers to them, the temptation is to cancel your old service as soon as possible. It would be best if you waited; we will let you know when your number has successfully ported, and it is safe to cease your previous service. Stopping it too soon can cause significant problems, so again, wait for us to give you the all-clear.
How long does it take to port a phone number to VoIP?
How long it takes to port your number will depend on your service and the type of line it is on. Generally speaking, we tell customers the process will take around 20 working days.
When we place the porting order, we can select a date beyond 20 days in the future or, say, ASAP, which in some cases can result in the move taking place sooner.
The time it takes to port your number will vary significantly and will be outside of our control.
What if you don’t want to keep your phone number?
You don’t have to keep and port your telephone numbers. Some businesses aren’t attached to the numbers they use, nor will it cause any disruption or incur costs to them, so it’s not essential.
When you speak to your T2k account manager, he or she will help you to review the numbers you have and decide on which numbers you would like to keep and which are surplus to requirements.
What if I want new phone numbers?
When you change telephony providers, it’s an excellent opportunity to look at the phone numbers you have and get more if you need them. Of course, you can get new phone numbers quickly and easily with our business VoIP service, but when you first come over, it’s a brilliant opportunity to review things. Today, there is a vast range of geographical (local) and non-geographical (national) numbers to choose from, and best of all, they’re usually pretty inexpensive to add.
Hopefully, you now have the confidence to embark on your migration to VoIP. The next step is to contact us and speak to one of our telecoms experts. With many years of experience in VoIP, ISDN and phone systems in general, we can give you expert advice tailored to your business.