If you’re looking to port your (non-mobile) phone number to Google Voice, hopefully these steps can make the process easy, cheap, quick and painless.
I read about how difficult this was all supposed to be, so I started with caution, but I started Wednesday and Saturday I had my brand new, shiny Google Voice number up and running!
Please understand what Google Voice is and isn’t. For starters, it is not a phone line. In the simplest terms, it is a phone number forwarder. If you want to receive a call to the number, it will forward to another phone (e.g. your unlimited minutes cell phone)
My reasons for switching were:
- Get my work and personal life down to a single phone such that my (old) work line would forward to my cell phone but still keep/be the old work line number.
- Get my work phone number associated with my Google Apps for Work account
- Get that phone number to work with my iPhone’s contacts (through Google Voice or Hangouts apps)
- Save money ($380/year!)
- Take advantage of my unlimited talk and text cell phone plan
- Enable text messages from the number (my VOiP account didn’t have text/SMS)
- Get more features
- Unplug devices (cordless phone & VOiP box) and declutter
- Free up ethernet cable
There ARE several steps involved and some might involve more costs. Maybe I just got lucky, but everything fell into place and things rolled along pretty easily.
First the monetary savings breakdown:
$272 (annual VOiP fee)+
$108 ($9 x 12 months, taxes and fees) =
$380 savings per year!
Google Voice is free, but remember, it’s not a phone line: you need to have a working phone line, whether landline, VOiP or cell.
Note that it did cost me $25 for the T-Mobile prepaid plan. A plan which actually disappears when I port that number to Google Voice. The account just goes away and you lose your $25. I asked if I could bring back that temporary number on my old cell phone, but it wasn’t possible. Oh well.
Here are the basic steps to port your non-mobile phone to Google Voice.
- Contact your current provider. Make sure you have the account number, PIN (if they have one), phone number, billing address, and your name.
- Walk into T-Mobile. I brought an old phone (happened to be a T-Mobile phone, but I don’t think it terribly matters) and ask for a pre-paid plan. I was open with the sales rep and told her that I was going to port it out right after it went through to Google Voice. She didn’t really understand, but I was mostly asking to make sure she didn’t say anything like, “Oh, there’s a 600 day waiting period before you can port your number out.” Because I had my own phone, I paid only $25 for their cheapest prepaid plan. NOTE: you’re going to lose this $25. The phone had a temporary number which would go away when the porting was done. I would lose that number too (not that I cared). I also created a PIN.
- Ask them to start the porting process on the spot. We did it right there. My former VOiP provider was 8×8 (formerly Packet8) and I called them to get my account number and PIN. Turns out they don’t use account numbers or PINs. Hmm. At first, we weren’t sure what to do, but the sales rep at T-Mobile suggested to try the phone number as the account number and do 0000 as the PIN. So that’s what we did.
- Wait for status report. We waited a few minutes for the status report. After a bit, it said that it was In Progress. This was good news, she says sometimes there are errors. There was even a date (2 days later) when the system said it would be done.
- Wait. I waited those two days and sure enough, my old cell phone took over my original VOiP number! Woo hoo! I called the rep at T-Mobile and she confirmed that it had gone through. She also reminded me that my account number was my phone number (the new, now ported number) and my PIN was the one I created in their shop. Success so far!
- Start the porting process to Google Voice. Now that the number was registered with a mobile provider (T-Mobile) and no longer my VOiP company, I went into my Google Voice account and started the porting process. This time when I checked if the number was available for porting, it was! Yay! So I started the process and all went pretty smoothly.
- Check the status and add your PIN. The status at first was an error message saying that I didn’t enter the PIN. Hmm, there hadn’t been anywhere to actually enter the PIN. If you click on the error link (I had to do it a few times), it will give you two fields for your account number and the PIN. The account number is the number you’re porting and the PIN is your PIN from T-Mobile. Remember, we now have nothing more to do with the first VOiP company. The status was now in progress and it said it could take up to 24 hours.
- Porting complete! After just about 24 hours, I got an email from Google Voice saying that the porting was complete! I called the phone and it … didn’t really work. Aha, I needed to set things up in the Google Voice account. Note that I have a Google Apps for Work account where I can use my own domain (email@example.com). I signed up for Google Voice using that Google account so it would be associated with that email address. Turns out, this step can be important if you’d like this number associated with a certain Google account. Once I set up the forwarder to my cell phone number it … still didn’t work. Aha, I had set the Do Not Disturb settings to not forward on the weekends! Sheesh, I’m not used to so many powerful options. I fixed that and voila! A phone call to my former VOiP number now came through to my cell phone! Done and done!
Whew! Sounds like a process (and it is), but if you’re diligent, it should work out and you’ll be able to drop your VOiP account, save several hundred dollars per year, unplug a few devices and reap the many new features of Google Voice.
I went into the settings of Google Voice and there are a zillion settings to play with. Forwarding, even Do Not Disturb custom settings with times and days of the week, custom voicemail down to even a personal level (special voicemail when Lauren calls, another when anyone from the office calls) and now I can send and receive text messages! My VOiP account didn’t have text messages and people said they sent me a text and I’d have to tell them to send it to my cell … but then I didn’t want to give my (personal) cell number to my clients. Yeah, you get the idea.
In all, it was a great success and I’m looking forward to saving money and having more features on fewer devices.