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Phones forum


porting phone numbers

by DanQLester / October 20, 2012 7:46 AM PDT

OK, help me out here, folks.

I want to terminate my landline, and port my landline number to GoogleVoice. Yes, I know I can't do that directly, but I can by porting it thorough a cell carrier. My cell is Verizon. I can port my landline number to Verizon easily.

Now, I'd sorta like to keep my own Verizon cell number. So how do I do this?

I understand that maybe I can ask Verizon for a separate new number, and port through that number?

When I port to Google, I'm told my cell account will be terminated. As in, my whole account?? Or just that cell number? If just that new cell number is terminated, that's fine by me.

There must be a FAQ on this with clear steps. Pointer to discussions about doing this?


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All Answers

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Just get a new prepaid Verizon cell phone
by Pepe7 / October 20, 2012 3:32 PM PDT
In reply to: porting phone numbers
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more questions
by DanQLester / October 21, 2012 2:38 AM PDT

Thanks. I did find that piece. Quite useful.

I'm not sure what personal data on a Gmail account has to do with this though. No problem creating a separate GMail account, but in what way am I compromising that data by doing such a port? As to doing the port, why "not through ATT"? I'm certainly not going to be asking them to do it.

What I find disconcerting is the statement by Gewirtz here that if you get DSL service on this same POTS line (which I do), doing this switch could screw that up. I can't have that, because, obviously, my Gphone access is going to use that internet connection! That is, I guess that DSL account is "attached" to that home phone number I want to port.

I guess I have to talk with ATT/SWBell about how to keep my DSL while I'm porting my phone number. But if anyone has specific advice about doing this, it would be much appreciated.

As to the cell number to port through, maybe you're saying I should just get another Verizon number to use temporarily to port through. That seems sensible.

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Naked DSL/Creating a second google account
by Pepe7 / October 21, 2012 11:33 AM PDT
In reply to: more questions

Regarding why you might want to create a second google account, re-read step 3 in the zdnet article I provided. It's a privacy issue, for some people. Not necessary, but useful IMNSHO with the ever-reaching 'tentacles' of Google ;).

My second comment is on DSL/POTS. In most cases you do not have to maintain a landline to have DSL service. ATT started doing this quite a few years ago, actually. DSL w/o the landline is known as 'naked' DSL. More info here:

Some telcos do charge more for such an 'unbundled' service though. What will happen is, once ATT de-provisions the POTS service they shouldn't have to do anything with your DSL service since it's not changing to a different system or separate cable running from your house (via the NID) out to the pole. A great place to learn more about what you can expect is Some of the ATT techs post there too with a few tidbits.

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this is helpful ...
by DanQLester / October 21, 2012 12:29 PM PDT

Thanks again. This is helpful.

Yes, I think when I talked to ATT/SWBell they mentioned that they needed to convert my line to "naked DSL", but it wasn't clear that this would prevent me from losing my POTS number. But I guess I just have to work with them to understand just when to port that number. If I port before they convert it, I'm concerned that the whole account could be closed. If I port after they convert it, I'm concerned there many be no POTS number to port anymore.

I figure I'll spring for UVerse anyway, and they now market that for internet unbundled.

As to security "because the provider needs your login and password" ... that would be Google, eh? Well, gee, it seems to me that Google already has my GMail login and password because my account is on their server. OK, maybe it means that parts of Google that would not normally have it would get it. Is that the issue? I frankly can't see that you can have any sense of absolute security when your stuff is on someone elses server.

I have posted to dslreports, but didn't learn anything useful there about number porting.

Before I saw the Gewirtz piece, I frankly wasn't aware of the el cheapo WalMart/Target cell phones. Amazing. Now, I understand that the way these work is that when you first get them, they're unusable until you buy time. Is that correct? That is, they don't come with a tiny amount of time to get you started. If not, I guess I'd buy the minimum time. Once you activate them, and the time you've purchased expires or you burn it all, are those phones still rechargeable? Not really relevant to the issue at hand, but I'd like to believe they are.

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When you cancel your POTS line...
by Pepe7 / October 21, 2012 3:25 PM PDT
In reply to: this is helpful ... is likely you would lose the number quickly. It might be easier to first port out to an ATT prepaid number too if your landline is ATT. That way it doesn't matter what happens to the landline since you are canceling it anyway, porting out beforehand.

FWIW, In many ATT areas there is no new DSL, only UVERSE. And once you get that there's no returning to DSL, even if you do not like UVERSE, or end up having problems. Just keep that in mind ;).

The idea behind using a second google account is that one wouldn't have your contacts, etc, in addition to your primary Google pwd. It's like a decoy.

Regarding prepaid phones- yes. When you buy them, you have to activate and purchase some sort of increment depending on which carrier you end up with. It's not as simple as charging them and talking when the phone has power from the get-go ;). And if you run out of minutes one month/forget to top off your prepaid account/service, you can re-activate if you want to later on. Again, this will different from prepaid provider to prepaid provider & plan.

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here's what AT&T says ...
by DanQLester / October 24, 2012 1:14 AM PDT

OK, armed with this info, I got in touch with AT&T. The answer is clear. In my neighborhood, they don't allow naked DSL. You HAVE to upgrade to UVerse. OK, no biggie.

So you order UVerse, and get it installed. Once installed, you still have your DSL and POTS. NOW you do the port of the home phone number. When you do the port to the cell phone, your DSL account and POTS account are automatically terminated.

DO NOT port your phone number before getting UVerse installed, or you'll find yourself without any internet access.

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More info
by Pepe7 / October 24, 2012 1:26 AM PDT

Good point on UVERSE being the only current option for many folks in ATT areas.

AFAIK, once UVERSE is installed, you may still not have access to DSL depending on how a particular residence is wired inside. YMMV. My parents ended up having very limited access points during the re-wiring, so the installer ended up re-wiring their home via the easiest way in which was close to the NID.
I believe it was removed almost simultaneously.

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UVerse versus DSL?
by DanQLester / October 24, 2012 8:35 AM PDT
In reply to: More info

Well, the AT&T person I talked to said that you could have DSL and UVerse simultaneously, and terminate once once you have the other. I got him to repeat that to me several times. But that's a good point. If both use the home phone lines, then I'd think you can't have both connected at the same time. Does UVerse, in fact, connect to the house phone lines? I'd sorta like to have the UVerse modem where I now have my DSL modem, which is right next to a handy phone port. But if UVerse comes into the house on separate wiring, all bets are off.

UVerse is fiber to the house. What happens at the NID? Does it stay fiber, or does it go copper? If copper, does it go shielded cable? Of course, AT&T won't bother to tell you useful stuff like this on their website ...

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I'm not aware of ATT doing this
by Pepe7 / October 25, 2012 1:29 AM PDT
In reply to: UVerse versus DSL?
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ah, it's CAT5!
by DanQLester / October 25, 2012 2:13 AM PDT

OK, that's important. Sounds like from the NID box, it's on CAT5 into the house, if just for internet. That would mean that the POTS line that the house is wired for is unused after UVerse (for internet only) is installed. Now, I already have a lot of CAT5 in my house, from the days before wifi, so if they give me a CAT5 plug, I can go anywhere I want with the UVerse to put my modem where I want it.

The fact that the POTS wiring will be unused is actually kind of handy. If I choose to go with something like an Obihai box, ideally next to my UVerse modem, to put my existing telephone handsets on the internet, that line will be available to connect them all up.

Thanks for the pointer to There appear to be a lot of answers there. I suspect I'll be there a bit.

Makes sense that UVerse and DSL won't be operational at the same time. Certainly no reason to have both available to be used at the same time. But it's important that UVerse be completely installed before the POTS (and DSL) account is terminated.

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perhaps ...
by DanQLester / October 24, 2012 8:53 AM PDT
In reply to: More info

Um, perhaps what he meant was that when UVerse is installed, DSL service is uninstalled, but the DSL account is still there.So you still have a POTs number to port, even if you don't have POTS service.

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Not quite
by Pepe7 / October 25, 2012 2:29 AM PDT
In reply to: perhaps ...

I believe when UVERSE is installed/operating, DSL goes away on your ATT bill. The 'account' is truly an ATT account, with respective subscribed services You would then see only charges for UVERSE service, and your POTS.

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I need to ask them again ...
by DanQLester / October 25, 2012 3:10 AM PDT
In reply to: Not quite

That isn't what the AT&T person said. He said that once UVerse is installed, you have to specifically cancel the POTS and DSL account, and porting the number will do that automatically. Maybe there is some grace period for doing that?

I'm going to check back with them on this, because this is something of singular importance. I don't want to install UVerse only to have them tell me, oh, your POTS number is gone now! But if I port the POTS number first, and then the UVerse installation folks screw around for a while, I won't have any internet access while they do. I've heard horror stories about UVerse installation that takes more than a day. "Oops, we need another modem, and don't have one on the truck. See you on Monday!", etc. I can't tolerate that.

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THE ANSWER (I think)
by DanQLester / October 25, 2012 4:43 AM PDT
In reply to: Not quite

OK, I got back in touch with AT&T. The answer I got is largely consistent with what we've been discussing here, and what I heard when I last talked with them. Here's the deal.

When you get UVerse installed, DSL will disappear. You can't have DSL and UVerse at the same time. So there will be a period of a few hours, probably/maybe, when you don't have internet connectivity. If there is some problem with getting you connected on UVerse, they'll just patch back your DSL.

BUT, when UVerse is installed and your DSL disappears YOU STILL HAVE YOUR POTS LINE. You can call out, get calls in, just as always.

You're still paying for POTS, just not for DSL. The POTS line disappears as soon as you do the port.

So the answer to my original question is as we decided. Get UVerse internet connectivity first. THEN port your POTS phone number.

Many thanks for your time and wisdom, Pepe7.

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My problem is...
by Pepe7 / October 26, 2012 1:42 AM PDT
In reply to: THE ANSWER (I think)

..that I've gone through the ordeal on behalf of upwards of a dozen family/friends. ATT messed up some part of the process in every case(!@#$%%). And you are adding the additional layer of porting out a desired number associated with POTS ;).

Let us know if you need any more help.

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Nod to Pepe7's ordeals.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 26, 2012 1:57 AM PDT
In reply to: THE ANSWER (I think)

Just 2 years ago I moved and ATT showed how messed up they are.

The new place had Uverse so I called in and tried to order it. But the ATT folk insisted they can't install this unless I had dial tone.

The first crew arrived and the tech said the lines were wrong and they rewired it to get the telephone working. OK, make the call for Uverse.

You can bet the second crew arrives and techs said the lines were all wrong and they rewired it to get Uverse working. OK, it's working.

A few months pass and ATT has sent my past due DSL+Phone bill to collections but I don't have ATT Phone and DSL. I have Uverse which is paid up just fine. ANOTHER CALL and it's all straightened out again. I never knew about the DSL since they defaulted to email for billing and since I don't use DSL and their email account I never knew.

-> SNAFU <-

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will keep my eyes open ...
by DanQLester / October 26, 2012 4:03 AM PDT

Yes, I dislike dealing with AT&T. Their left hand often doesn't know what their right hand is doing. I've had this connection for at least a decade, from when it was SWBell. As long as it works, which it mostly has, I don't have to deal with them much.

No question that I'll be watching my bills and the install like a hawk. The idea that porting a POTS number "automatically" cancels your phone account is too good to be true. I'll bet it automatically kills your POTS phone service, but doesn't quite kill your billing.

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one more question ...
by DanQLester / October 28, 2012 3:05 AM PDT

Re the nice strategy of buying a cheap "throwaway" cell phone through which to do a landline port to Google Voice --

What happens with the "throwaway" phone when the port to Google Voice is done? It no longer has a phone number. Am I obligated, in fact, to throw that phone away? Or will the provider (e.g. Tracphone) give me a new number, if I want to keep it as a backup cell phone?

I'm guessing that the phone just has to be "activated" again, just as I'd have to have done after I got it. Can you "activate" one of these phones multiple times? Is that correct?

Just wondering ...

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re: "throw-away" phone
by Pepe7 / October 28, 2012 7:49 AM PDT
In reply to: one more question ...

Keep it mind it depends on which service you are working. Generally though, once you are no longer using an active SIM card (if it's a service that requires a SIM), the phone would only be able to dial 911 calls w/o providing some sort of active SIM card. With GSM service using a SIM card at least, the SIM card provides the phone number/service, not the handset.

AFAIK you can indeed re-activate a tracfone.

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nice to know
by DanQLester / October 28, 2012 10:14 AM PDT
In reply to: re: "throw-away" phone

OK, that's nice to know that the Tracphone can be reactivated with a new number after the landline number is ported from it. Just means it's worth holding onto, in case we have a guest (say, an international one) whose cell phone won't work here. I guess one can always go to Walmart and get a new $10 phone, but this is easier.

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Have an int'l guest bring their unlocked GSM phone
by Pepe7 / October 28, 2012 1:38 PM PDT
In reply to: nice to know

If they bring along their unlocked phone or phones, they can simply pick up any number of prepaid provider's SIM cards for their duration in the U.S. Easy.

Our trips abroad aren't always as easy since we often either have phones with the wrong technology to use abroad (e.g. Sprint), or our carrier branded phones are frequently locked to U.S. GSM carriers (a la ATT in some cases).

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OK, it's done!
by DanQLester / November 20, 2012 11:52 PM PST
In reply to: more questions

I just wanted to express closure on this topic. The port from AT&T landline to Google Voice through Tracfone is done. It worked!

This was a straightforward task. A few pointers to those who are going the same route ...

When Google Voice asks for the PIN number of the phone you're trying to port, what you need to enter (and this is far from being clear) is the Tracfone phone serial number (which is the IMEI/MEID/ESN number). I flailed a bit on this, and until I figured it out, my port request was denied. Google should make this instruction clearer.

The Tracfone option works well to port out of the landline. $10 gets you one of these little jewels at Walmart, and it includes 10 minutes of connect time, which is plenty to do the port. So you don't need to buy any extra time to get the port done.

As a result of al this, the TOTAL cost of the port from AT&T landline to Google Voice is $30. $10 for the Tracfone (which, of course, you can still use after the fact), and $20 for the port to Google Voice.

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Glad to hear it worked
by Pepe7 / November 21, 2012 2:10 AM PST
In reply to: OK, it's done!

Thanks for documenting all the steps/costs involved too.

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Great Info~~
by keithmamo / November 21, 2012 6:18 AM PST
In reply to: Glad to hear it worked

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