EDIT - 8./9/2014: While all of the information below remains accurate I would like to add that if you are porting from a VoIP provider, then you should confirm AFTER the port has been complete that your account has been closed! This is probably more relevant to business or hosted PBX VoIP customers and not so much for residential service like that provided by your cable provider, or carriers similar to Vonage. Remember NEVER contact your current provider to cancel service UNTIL the port process has been completed, doing so may cause the port to fail!
Many people are switching from one carrier to another, or switching telephone services from land line to cellular to VoIP and many of you want to be able to bring your number with you. Maybe you have too many people that already know your number. Maybe you are using the number for business. Whatever the reason you want to be able to bring that phone number that you have become attached to with you when you leave one provider, and move over to a new provider.
When looking to change carriers, or services and bring your number with you there are several things to keep in mind:
*First contact the NEW provider that you want to move the number to, and tell them that you want to port your number. They will likely require additional information, such as the account number, and/or password for your account so that they can port the number over to their service.
*Do NOT cancel your current service until the port process is complete, doing so may result in you losing the ability to take the number with you.
*You may be required to pay any outstanding balances from your current provider before they release the number. If your service has been suspended for non-payment your current carrier may not release the number to your new carrier until payments have been brought up to date.
*If you are in a contract, you may be required to pay any ETFs (early termination fees) before the number is released from your current provider.
*Many VoIP providers will be more than happy to port your number TO their service, but it may be difficult for you to port the number away from them if you are not satisfied with the service - check the service providers policy for taking your number with you when you leave, or ask them. Land line and cellular carriers are required to port, but VoIP carriers are not bound by all of the same laws as land line or cellular carriers. You may not be thinking about this, since you expect that your new service will satisfy your needs into the foreseeable future.
*Not all VoIP providers allow numbers to be ported TO their service. (Magicjack comes to mind)
*Some VoIP providers will charge you a fee to port your number (Ooma comes to mind).
*Porting to land line service can normally only be done when the line originally was served out of the same central office that serves the address that you will be having the service activated at. In some cases you may be able to port a number to a land line that is not originally served from the central office that serves the address where service will be activated, but this normally comes with added monthly fees, and is normally not a viable option unless you are running a larger business and can not afford to lose your valuable telephone number.
*Make sure that the company that you are porting your number to is reputable, and financially stable. You do not want your new carrier going bankrupt and going out of business leaving you with no way to move your number to a new carrier.
EDIT- If the number that you are porting is your DSL number you WILL have problems. The DSL WILL be disconnected once the porting process is complete
If you have any distinctive ringing numbers, be sure to include them in the port process with your new provider if you do not want to lose those numbers. If your new carrier does not support distinctive ringing, discuss alternate options with your new carrier, such as making it a virtual number, or adding an additional line of service with your current distinctive ringing number.
When you begin the porting process, your new carrier might provide you with a temporary number if they activate the service before the current service is canceled. You may wish to forward your current number to the temporary number that the new carrier provides to you. With call forwarding active on your current line to the temporary number that your new provider gives you, you will be able to answer your calls with your new service. I however do NOT recommend this for businesses. I recommend that businesses leave their old service active for incoming calls while the port completes because call forwarding will only forward ONE incoming call - while the line is active all other callers will get a busy signal.