Porting My Cell Number to Google Voice

Why You’d Want to Port Your Number to Google Voice

Google-voice-iconAs I described in my previous post, A Plan to Deal with Bad Cell Phone Reception, a new commute recently forced me to deal with the fact that there was no single cell phone provider that offered both good service at my house and on my daily drive to work. The solution I came up with was to use Google Voice in order to have Google ring both my cell phone and a new VOIP Obi 202 phone line simultaneously. If I was away from home, obviously, I would pick up on the cell. If I was home where my new AT&T coverage couldn’t reach me, I’d simply pick up from the phone connected to the Obi 202.

Of course, I would prefer to not get a new number. I have used Google Voice in the past, and I’ve learned that my friends and family are completely confused by it. I’m in the 309 area code here in Central Illinois, so the number I’ve had for years is 309-OLD NUMBER. At last check, Google Voice didn’t have 309 numbers by default. When I signed up for Google Voice years ago, I noticed that the last 7 digits of my current number were available in the 432 area code. I thought to myself, “This will help prevent confusion,” and I reserved 432-OLD NUMBER.

Trust me when I tell you that this did nothing to prevent confusion. Any phone calls or texts I have ever made from that number have induced just short of complete confusion in my friends. Calls made from that number are screened. Texts received from that number are greeted with bafflement. When I have temporarily been without a phone (or out of cell phone range) and encouraged people to text/call my Google Voice number, it has been a pointless exercise. People simply won’t do it.

So I viewed this as my chance to go all in on Google Voice. Now, I will never be unreachable. Even if my phone is destroyed, even if I lose my cell phone number in a port, I should be reachable via my PC or whatever number I tell Google to send my calls/texts to until I reestablish a regular phone. My friends and family won’t even realize my number has changed.

If you are considering making the jump to Google Voice and have been reading various blog posts on the topic, make sure you have the latest information about Google Voice, as Google made significant upgrades over the course of 2014. If you have an Android phone, all of your calls can now be handled via your phone’s telephone connection and/or WIFI/data coverage if you download the Hangouts Dialer app. Even though you’ll have another cell phone number from your cell provider, no one ever has to know that, as the Google Voice app can mask that number and use your Google Voice number. Also, Google Voice does now have the ability to do MMS for picture messages, a feature I still use quite a bit since I haven’t found a single messaging app that all of my friends and family have gotten behind.

How to Port to Google Voice

Google makes the process fairly simple. Go to voice.google.com and under “Settings” select “Change/Port.” There will be an option to port your number in. Google gives you the option to test your number first to see if it is even eligible to be ported. In my case, it was. Keep in mind that land lines are not eligible to port. However, in most cases you could probably first port your land line to your cell phone provider, and then port it to Google Voice (my number was once a land line).

After testing your eligibility for the port, Google will request the account number and PIN from your cell phone account to complete the port.  With Straight Talk, there was no PIN, and the account number was my SIM card number, so again, really easy. There is a $20 charge, payable via Google Wallet.

How Long Does It Take to Port Your Number to Google Voice?

In the Google Voice port FAQ page, Google says that it will take “up to 5 business days” to have your number ported. After I completed the port request, I had a message that said it would take up to 24 hours. I poked around on a couple of other forums, and it appears that most people find that it takes almost exactly 24 hours, often to the minute. This was the case for me. 24 hours and 15 minutes after I submitted my request, my number was ported to Google Voice, despite the fact that I submitted the request on a Saturday. It appears that business days have nothing to do with it. Perhaps Google puts some sort of hold on the port for 24 hours.

Will My Cell Phone Service Be Cancelled?

Google says that your cell phone service will be cancelled and, if you were under contract, you will owe early termination fees. This sounds like something you should check with your provider. I have read stories on forums of people clearing this with their provider ahead of time by telling them what they were planning to do, that they did not want to cancel their service, only get a new number and port their old number out. Some providers are ok with this, but if you are under contract, your provider gets to make the call so be sure to check ahead of time.

In my case, I didn’t care since Straight Talk is a month to month provider and I only had a few days left on my most recent month. I just waited to see what would happen. What happened was that my service was immediately discontinued when the port went through. No phone signal, data signal, nothing. I called Straight Talk to explain what I had done and tell them that I did not want to cancel service but would need a new number. They were happy to provide me with a new number and allowed me to keep the last few days credit of the month I had already paid for.

There was some confusion in getting a new number established, though, because unlike some providers, Straight Talk will not let you reactivate a SIM card you previously used. Ultimately, I wanted to switch to an AT&T SIM anyway, so this wasn’t a problem, but due to bad advice and confusion on the part of Straight Talk reps, it was a full 24 hours before I had service again. However, once I did, it was exactly what I expected: beautiful LTE and call quality throughout my commute and everywhere else I go except for one place: my house.

Next time—patching that hole in home coverage with Google Voice and the Obi 202.

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Lucas Allen

Lucas Allen

For more than a decade, Lucas Allen was a high school math teacher and math team coach in Illinois. His 2012 Morton High School math team won the Illinois state championship. Recently, he made the jump from public education to the corporate world and is now working as a data scientist. He is interested in just about all forms of technology, including the TI-Nspire, Nexus devices, R, MOOCs, and more. You can follow , and if you are nice, he will probably follow you back.

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