Ever wondered what happens behind the scenes when transferring your number from one service provider to another? Let’s shed some light on the mysterious process of transferring (porting) a phone number between service providers. Fair warning, there will be some necessary use of telecom industry jargon, which I’ll do my best to explain along the way.
A customer wishing to transfer their number to a new service provider initiates that request with the new service provider (winning service provider) using a Letter of Authority (LOA). Think of the LOA as a permission slip. The LOA may literally be paper based or much more commonly it’s electronic.
The winning service provider routes the LOA to one’s current service provider (losing service provider) requesting transfer of the number(s) in question. For most service providers, including Republic, this is an automated process. The losing service provider’s job is to verify the information provided on the LOA as being accurate, then to release the number(s) to the winning service provider. The result is Firm Order Commitment (FOC). FOC is agreement between the involved parties to transfer the number. The request for FOC from the winning service provider typically comes with a date attached.
Wireline Vs. Wireless
This is where the wireless vs. landline (wireline is the correct telecom industry term) conundrum crops up. Republic numbers are Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). VoIP is the technology powering the WiFi portion of Republic’s blended WiFi/cell service. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), VoIP numbers are wireline not wireless. There is nothing Republic can do to change this regulatory classification. Many service providers presume a wireline number will take longer than it does in reality to transfer and, therefore, request an FOC date farther out than need be. More on this from the FCC here: Wireless Local Number Portability (WLNP). In particular, please note the section titled: Can consumers port a wireline number to a wireless phone? And, the second bullet point under: How long will the porting process take?
Republic does require the date of transfer attached to FOC to be 3 days out. A number may transfer sooner than the end of that three day window, however, if the requested date of transfer is less than three days out, the transfer will likely be rejected. In the event of rejection, your new service provider will need to cancel the pending request, then resubmit with a requested date of transfer three days out. Please see here for more: Port Out Rejection from Republic Wireless "Due Date and Time Cannot Be Met" – Republic Help.
A few service providers refuse to transfer wireline numbers at all. Because Republic numbers are classified as wireline by the FCC, there is also nothing Republic can do about these policy decisions by others. If one still wants to do business with one of these service providers; a means of working around said policy decisions is at: Transferring a Republic Number to a Service Provider That Refuses Landlines.
Previously, I mentioned the losing service provider’s job is to validate the information supplied by the winning service provider on behalf of the customer. In the event this information cannot be validated, the winning service provider’s request for FOC is rejected with a reason given. That reason is reported to the winning service provider, who in turn should advise its’ customer. For example if any of the following does not match a number transfer request may be rejected:
- Account Number
- Phone Number
- Billing Address
- PIN or Password
If one has questions regarding the timing of their number transfer or other concerns regarding its status, those are best directed to the service provider asking for the number not the service provider losing the number. You will likely need to ask to speak to a porting specialist. Ask that individual if Firm Order Commitment (FOC) has been received and what the attached date of transfer is. If the answer is FOC has not been received, ask if they received a rejection and what the reason for the rejection is. If the answer is neither, it’s possible the transfer is “stuck”. In the event of rejection or a stuck transfer, the appropriate course of action is to work with the winning service provider to fix the problem. Should the winning service provider require assistance from the losing service provider, a porting specialist knows how to get that assistance directly. Under no circumstances, should the customer be tasked with going back to the losing service provider. Candidly, if the winning service provider (who is the party gaining one’s business) asks the customer to do so, they aren’t doing the job they’re being paid to do.
More on number transfers from Republic here: Number Transfer: Overview.
Do Not Cancel!
A final word of caution when transferring a number to a new service provider. Generally, the process of transferring a number automatically cancels service with one’s current service provider. It’s a very bad idea to proactively cancel service with one’s current service provider before being certain that one’s number transfer is complete. Doing so, risks loss of one’s number and unless both new and old account are active a number transfer (port) will fail. Moral of the story:
Let the process do the work for you.