The most commonly asked question in telco: can I keep my mobile number?
Yes. The short answer is a healthy and trouble free yes. I know. It’s not usually this simple. These days people have far too many ‘information identities’ to manage.They have logins for this, passwords for that, fixed and mobile numbers to remember at home and work. It’s a real task to keep track of them all. That’s why, the most commonly asked pre-sales question when you’re taking out a contract with a telecommunications service provider ( phone company ) is ‘Can I keep my mobile number’ ? It is just such a pain to change it.
How does the telecommunications industry manage customer telephone number movements ?
Luckily, they realized this was something they needed to sort out a long time ago. Internally, , the process of moving the same telephone number for one individual from one company to another is known as porting. All the telcos have a single, shared database of all the telephone numbers which have been provided to them by the government. They actually have to pay the government to use them.
How does it work ?
When you decide to leave one telco and go to another, the telco you’re leaving notifies the database that the number is free to ‘port’ and the one you’ve moving to allocates it to their network. There’s a lot of technical gubbins that happens at the same time to associate the number to the SIM card you’ve been given.
How long will it take ?
The transfer process varies in duration, including whether you’re doing this over the weekend. It can take 24 – 48 hours to move across. In the meantime, you might not be able to make or receive calls on the phone number. The phone number has to go through a ‘no man’s land’ or ‘limbo’ state where it’s not actually allocated to a provider.
But then it pops out the other side and you’re still the same 10 digits you always were . It’s just that you’re getting your coverage and bill from another network provider.
Actually doing it on the telco websites
Keeping your phone number and moving to a postpaid SIM :
All 3 of the major telcos will ask for notification of your preference about your phone number when you checkout on their site. You can choose a new one if you want ( we’ve had friends that wanted to hide so they took a new number and didn’t tell anyone else – honestly ! ) or you can choose to keep the one you have.
And, once your credit check has been passed – the process of ‘porting’ you will begin. Working with the telcos can be a nightmare. Everyone silently deflates when they know they’ve got to go through the checkout process.
Keeping your phone number and moving to a prepaid SIM :
With Lebara and other prepaid providers, you order your SIM first. Then, once you received your SIM, you will need to activate it. This can be done through the phone company’s website or by calling their call centre.
As part of the activation process, you will be asked if you wish to port in ( transfer across to your new phone company ) your existing mobile number. If you select YES, they will be asked for the mobile number and your date of birth. The port will then be processed as part of the activation.
Keeping your number is the least of your worries.