How to Transfer or Port Your Home Number to Your Cell Phone

WLNP or Wireless Local Number Portability is a service the FCC made legal to allow phone customers to change carriers without losing a number they had previously subscribed to. This empowers consumers by not forcing them to lose a number just because they no longer benefited from the previous provider’s services. This availability to move or port your personal phone number from one provider of service to another became available on November 24, 2003 yet so many people are still unaware of it or how it works.

This should be a free service provided by the new carrier. Other than the normal activation fees, etc. associated with the plan you choose, porting costs nothing extra. Remember that if you are under contract with the provider you are porting from, you can be charged an early termination fee since porting out cancels your service and breaks your contract. Remember that your bill on both ends will most likely be prorated since porting will probably occur during a billing cycle, not always at the beginning or end.


While this service is a benefit it can also frustrate some customers. Most numbers should be eligible to port but still some restrictions apply.

• First, the phone account that contains the number must be in your name, not a family member or an employer.

• If you are trying to move to an area where long-distance fees would apply you may not be able to switch. You must remain in the same market to qualify. Also, the carriers must have agreements with each other because of coverage issues.

• Numbers associated with pagers cannot be ported.

• With cell phone ports dual service can also be experienced during port. At some point, possibly for hours, you may receive incoming on one handset and outgoing calls on the other.

• Remember to bring your account number, preferably a bill, and passwords from your old account. The new provider cannot insert a port request without them.

• DO NOT CANCEL YOUR OLD NUMBER or it will not be eligible to port. It must be an active number & in your name to be ported. Remember, if your number is part of a bundle that includes things like Internet or television communicate with that provider to avoid losing those services when porting since it cancels your line with them.

• Before you port out a landline review your lifestyle. Do you need a wired landline for faxing, television access, alarm systems, TTY for hearing impaired, medical alert systems, etc. If you give up that wired landline these services will no longer work. This is true when converting and porting to most VoIP services also.

During a port plan for emergencies because dialing 9-1-1 from your phone before the port is complete will cause the 911 operator to not be able to call you back. If you need to call in an emergency you must remain on the line after calling 9-1-1.

Porting your number involves many complicated systems between two independent companies. These systems all have to be updated. Porting a landline to a cell phone can take as long as 7-10 days, while cell phone to cell phone can be a few hours to 24 hours. These timelines vary between carriers. Not all porting goes as smoothly as hoped for. Usually, the carrier you are moving to can provide you with a temporary number while you are waiting.

Remember, when carriers are experiencing high WLNP volumes, like in the case of the very successful T-Mobile @Home landline service, it will delay your port. The number one service tip when dealing with the process… Be patient. They are doing all they can to get you to their team since it benefits them as well.

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