Posted: Carlie McKeon | January 13, 2016

Cell Phone Providers

How To Keep Your Number And Change Your Carrier

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It's true, you can have it all.

There is no need to stick with a provider that is not providing the service you want out of fear of losing your phone number.

A new carrier does not have to mean a new number. That means there is no need to post a status on Facebook letting all of your friends know you have a new number. There is a way to take your beloved cell phone number with you.

Thanks to the Wireless Local Number Portability (LNP), cell phone users can now keep their number. The FCC has required all carriers to allow Wireless LNP (under certain conditions).

There are some restrictions to note. For instance, you have to be local and switching your carriers. You cannot be moving across the country for the regulations to apply. If everything checks out, this is how you keep your number when changing providers:


First of all, a cell phone provider cannot stop you from keeping your number when you switch. However, your new provider is not at all legally required to accept the new number. A majority of the time, the new carrier will accept it (otherwise they are out the new customer). Typically it is pre-pay carriers who do not take ported numbers.

Port requests must be made by the actual user. If you are on a family plan, you will have to sign up with an individual plan before the port request can be approved.

Lastly, if you owe money to your current carrier, you will still have the ability to port your number to your new carrier. That does not mean the debt goes away though and termination fees may apply if a contract is broken.

How do I do it?

  1. Wait to cancel your service until you contact your new provider. If your account is deactivated before establishing this, you will not be able to move forward with the process.
  2. After establishing which carrier, plan, and phone you want, get in contact with the new provider. You will need to provide them with some personal information including: your name, address, customer account number, and quite possibly your account password.
  3. If you also plan on keeping your old phone, you may also need the phone's ESN/IMEI number. This number can be found on the back of your phone or underneath your battery.
  4. After providing all of this information, the new provider will then work with the old carrier to start the porting process. You will not have to be involved after that.
  5. The new carrier will then activate your new account while your old account is simultaneously canceled.

Eligible Numbers

Numbers that can utilize the porting process include:

  • Cell phone number
  • Wireline number
  • Fax Number
  • *Pre-pay numbers (must be active during the time of transfer)

Numbers that cannot use the porting process include:

  • "800" numbers
  • Pager numbers
  • Number's belonging to an existing account


While the porting process is underway, you can make calls on your old phone but all incoming calls will go to your new phone. Usually ports only take 1 business day (in actuality it is supposed to take 2.5 hours or less).

There can be fees associated with making the transition, but fees can be waived. Double check with your carriers to see if charges will apply.


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Written by Carlie McKeon

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