Porting Phone Number vs. Hosted Number | How to Port Numbers
Kyle Kuczynski
Kyle Kuczynski
MessageDesk Co-Founder & CMO
Updated: Jun 25, 2022

Learn How to Transfer Phone Numbers and Business Landlines for Voice and Hosted SMS

Your business or organization has probably had the same phone number or landline for years.

But what happens when you need to transfer your phone number or add additional services like business texting?

To move forward you’ll need to know how to transfer your phone number to a different provider.

You’ll also need to understand the difference between phone number porting and hosting.

So in this article, I’ll cover:

  1. What phone number porting is
  2. Call forwarding vs. number porting
  3. Phone number hosting
  4. Hosted SMS text messaging
  5. Top 3 reasons you might want to transfer, port, or host your phone number
  6. How phone number porting works
  7. How to port your existing phone number (with MessageDesk)
  8. Phone number porting frequently asked questions (FAQ)

By the end, you should have all the knowledge you need to transfer your business or organization’s phone line.

Read on for more.

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What is Phone Number Porting?

Phone number porting is the process of transferring “porting” your phone number from one provider to another. Porting your phone number means you get to keep it regardless of your phone or mobile carrier. Phone number porting can be done between landlines, VoIP, and wireless providers.

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What is Phone Number Hosting?

Hosting a number grants a new call or text service access to your phone number through your existing phone provider. Phone number hosting is different from phone number porting. This is because the new provider doesn’t have full access to or ownership of your phone number. Phone number hosting allows you to text-enable an existing business phone line, route calls, and more on top of your existing phone provider.

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What is Hosted SMS?

Hosted SMS allows you to send and receive SMS text messages on an existing phone number without disrupting your voice service. Business texting services like MessageDesk can host text messaging on your existing phone number to text-enable your business or organization phone line. You can’t currently host SMS for existing mobile phone numbers, only exiting VoIP and landline phone numbers.

Top 3 Reasons Why You Might Want to Transfer, Host, or Port Your Phone Number

There are several reasons why you might want to consider transferring or porting your phone number. Below are the top three.

1. Text enabling an existing business landline or VoIP number

Can your organization text? 39% of businesses already use some form of text messaging to communicate with consumers. And 61% of consumers think businesses should use the same number for calling and texting.

But landline services and some VoIP service providers don’t support SMS text messaging as a business.

So to start text conversations with your customers, you’ll need a text number for business.

What’s the best way to set up texting for your business landline? It’s by porting your number to a wireless service or setting up number hosting through a VoIP number.

2. Consolidating your voice and SMS phone numbers

Another reason for porting or hosting your phone number is to consolidate multiple phone lines. This can really help you out if you’re using your personal phone for work.

Adding multiple phone lines and services managed by different service phone carriers can also increase costs.

Consolidating your business numbers with one service provider gives you more control over usage and billing.

3. Set up text message and call forwarding for multiple business phone numbers

Once you consolidate multiple phone numbers, you’ll probably want to set up text messaging and call forwarding on each line.

Having the right business SMS service with a team SMS inbox and conversation assignment can also help you manage calls, engage customers and reduce call volume.

These services can receive SMS online. They can also handle call forwarding for all incoming calls placed to your text line or another number.

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How Phone Number Porting Works

I’ve covered number hosting and porting and several reasons why you’d transfer a landline or business phone number.

But how does number porting work? What do you need to know before you actually port or host a number?

1. Determine if you can port your phone number with a portability check

First, it's important to find out if the new service provider you’ve chosen can port your phone number. If the porting can be completed, it's time to start the request application.

Note: You can check your number portability by getting in touch with us and submitting a number hosting request.

2. Tell your current provider you’ll be porting your number

Contact your current provider’s support team to let them know that you’re starting a number port. Your current provider won’t need to do anything immediately.

3. Send the following information to your new phone provider

Your new provider will need the following information to begin the porting process:

  • Phone bill, account number, or latest invoice with the number you’re porting, your name, and billing address.
  • A PIN associated with your account (if applicable).
  • A Letter of Authorization granting permission to the new carrier to do the port.

Other relevant information your new provider will need includes:

  • Number of phone numbers you want to port
  • Type of number (10-digit local US or Canada, Toll-free/1-800, landline or VoIP
  • Your current provider and if the account is under your personal name or the business name

4. Complete a letter of authorization (LOA)

You’ll need to complete a letter of authorization (LOA) when applying for number porting with a new provider.

A letter of authorization (LOA) authorizes the transfer of phone number ownership from one provider to another. It’s the legal document that authorizes a number port.

Here’s what MessageDesk’s letter of authorization for a number port looks like:

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In some circumstances, your number porting request may be rejected for the following reasons:

  • Spelling errors or inaccurate information, such as the business address on the LOA, can prompt request rejections.
  • Other services attached to the phone number like voicemail, group ringing, or automatic forwarding may complicate your transfer request.
  • Account suspension will prevent the number from being ported.
  • If you owe money for prior bills, not from the current billing period, this can also cause a request rejection.
  • A clause in your existing contract prevents the porting of your telephone number to a new provider.

5. Your new carrier will notify you about the port date

When the number port is complete with your new provider you may cancel service with your old provider.

Note: Canceling service with your old provider before your number has been successfully ported often results in issues. I recommend waiting to cancel service with your original provider until your port is complete.

How to Port Your Existing Number (With MessageDesk)

Every phone number provider has a slightly different process for porting numbers. Below is what MessageDesk’s number porting process looks like.

1. Choose a number provider

The first step to porting a phone number is choosing a number provider.

Looking to get a number for SMS or text-enable your business? There are many great business texting services out there (including MessageDesk). But you’ll want to find one that has the SMS tools that suit your needs.

MessageDesk offers a specific range of phone number and texting features designed to suit your communications needs.

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2. Create a free account

The next step is to create a free account. You can do this with MessageDesk by starting a free trial.

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3. Submit a number port request or select a new phone number

Next, you’ll need to port or select a number or existing business phone line.

To text from your existing business number or landline, you’ll need to submit a number porting request.

Here’s an example of what a number porting request looks like in MessageDesk:

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Note: It takes 1-7 days to successfully text-enable your business number once you submit your request. Sometimes, this process is referred to as number hosting (not to be confused with number porting).

4. Complete and sign your letter of authorization (LOA)

Once you’ve submitted your number porting request, a representative from the MessageDesk team will reach out.

They’ll confirm that your number is eligible for porting. Then they’ll work with you to submit and sign a letter of authorization to approve the hosting or porting process.

Phone Number Porting Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding phone number porting, number hosting, call forwarding, and VoIP.

How do I know if my phone number is portable?

To know if your phone number is portable, you’ll want to complete a phone number portability check.

Moving to a new geographic area? You may not be able to keep your current phone number when changing providers.

Some rural wireline service providers may obtain waivers for the porting requirement from state authorities.

Their customers may be unable to port their number to a new provider. If you are unable to port your number for that reason, contact your state public utility commission for further information.

What is a phone number portability check?

A phone number portability check verifies the phone line you’re porting can be serviced by a new carrier. The vast majority of local numbers can be ported to any carrier. These include mobile and VOIP carriers.

In some cases, there may be restrictions regarding what numbers your new carrier can support.

You can check your number portability by getting in touch with us and submitting a number hosting request.

Note: In the US, federal regulation protects your right to keep your number when transferring services. This is called Local Number Portability (LNP) for fixed lines (landlines) or full mobile number portability (FMNP) for mobile phone lines. Numbers with LNP or FMNP allow you to reassign your existing number to another carrier.

What info is needed to port numbers?

In order to port your number, you need to prove that you own the number. That means you will most likely have to provide your account number with your current carrier.

You’ll also need your full name and address. They may need your service address for a landline as well as your billing address if the two are different.

Your new provider will need the following information to begin the porting process:

  • Phone bill, account number, or latest invoice with the number you’re porting, your name, and billing address.
  • A PIN associated with your account (if applicable).
  • A Letter of Authorization granting permission to the new carrier to do the port.

A phone number PIN is a personal identification number that you would set up on your phone provider account online.

Some carriers like Sprint, for example, require all customers to use a PIN. Others like T-Mobile and Verizon have it as an option. Other carriers may request the last four digits of your Social Security Number or the credit card on your billing account.

Other relevant information your new provider will need includes:

  • Number of phone numbers you want to port
  • Type of number (10-digit local US or Canada, Toll-free/1-800, landline or VoIP
  • Your current provider and if the account is under your personal name or the business name

What is a letter of authorization (LOA)?

A letter of authorization (LOA) authorizes the transfer of phone number ownership from one provider to another. It’s a legal document. It attests that an individual has the legal authority to act on behalf of your organization to carry out an action.

An LOA authorizes a representative at your new phone provider to contact your old provider and port your phone number.

Can you transfer a landline number to a cell phone?

Yes, you can port a landline to a cell phone so long as you stay in the same geographic area. You’ll want to check with the wireless carrier you want to use to make sure this is possible.

Note: Transferring a landline number to a cellphone number is considered number porting. You don't have to change providers if the provider that currently services your landline also offers wireless service.

Can you keep your phone number if you switch carriers?

If you're switching service providers and staying in the same geographic area, you can transfer your number to a new carrier.

Some business phone users don't know that they have the right to keep their phone numbers when they make a transition. This applies to cell phone numbers, virtual phone numbers, and landline phone numbers.

Once you apply for service at a new phone provider, the prior phone provider can’t refuse to port your number. This includes owing outstanding balances on the current billing cycle or a termination fee.

However, some exceptions may make porting your phone number not possible. Moving your business to a new geographic area may prevent you from keeping your current phone number when changing providers.

Also, some rural service providers may have waivers that exempt them from having to adhere to the porting requirement.

How long does it take to port a number?

Some landline ports take 1-2 days. On average it takes a VoIP provider 5-7 business days to port US numbers and 7-10 business days for Canadian numbers.

But how long to port a number can vary up to 12 or 14 days if certain conditions are met.

Porting from a traditional cell phone carrier to a VoIP provider can take longer than the normal 5-7 business day timeframe.

How much does phone number porting cost?

Most companies don’t have phone number porting fees. This applies both to porting numbers in and out.

What about VoIP number portability?

VoIP numbers can be ported just like landline and wireless phone numbers. The difference is that VoIP service providers don't manage the numbers you use. They rely on Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLEC) to do the actual porting of your phone numbers.

Does porting your number cancel service?

In some cases, number porting automatically cancels your old phone plan. As a best practice, you should call your old service provider to confirm the cancellation after successfully porting your number.

Note: It's important to not cancel your existing service before your number is successfully ported. Cancel your existing service before your number is ported can result in problems

Call forwarding vs. number porting

Call forwarding or “call diversion” is a telephone management feature that allows you to redirect inbound calls to a different phone number.

Businesses and organizations often use a call forwarding service to forward calls from an office phone to a personal cell phone, home phone, or another number.

Call forwarding is different from phone number porting. Phone number porting permanently moves your phone number from one provider to another provider. The old account associated with the number gets closed. With call forwarding, you keep your real phone number and provider, but calls get forwarded to another number.

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Final thoughts and next steps

Ready to start texting with your business landline? MessageDesk is here to help with smarter, simpler ways to send text messages.

Feel free to start a free MessageDesk trial with free SMS credits. You can also meet with a messaging expert to learn how to port your number.

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