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Why Does Phone Number Porting Take So Long?

Losing numbers is losing money. The longer a carrier or SIP trunk provider drags its feet giving up those numbers, the longer the company can keep charging you.

Josh Whitaker
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If you have ever had to port numbers from one provider to another you've probably asked the question, "Why does number porting take so long?'. The process is usually time-consuming, manual and error-prone — there’s surely a better way. So what is keeping us stuck in the dark ages?

How Long does Porting a Number Take?

Porting your phone number can take anywhere from a couple of minutes to a couple of days and is dependent on both the carriers your moving from and to, and the amount of numbers you are porting. With Telnyx you can have 1 number ported in under 30 minutes and bulk numbers ported in a couple of days.

Why Porting Phone Numbers Take so Long

The reasons why porting numbers takes so long are multi-faceted and are often caused by the carriers themselves. In a nutshell, carriers don't want you to leave their platform and so will make the process more difficult that it needs to be. Let's take a closer look:

1. Carriers don’t want to port your numbers.

Losing numbers is losing money. It’s that simple. The longer a carrier or SIP trunk provider drags its feet giving up those numbers, the longer the company can keep charging you. So, given the opportunity, the losing carrier will nitpick, fuss and draw the process out as long as they can. They’ll wait out the clock (as federally regulated) before responding to a porting application and reject it outright if they can find any errors. Of course, some carriers are worse offenders than others, but by and large, they’ve all baked that into the design of their porting processes somehow.

2. Those carriers wrote the porting rules.

Number portability is federally regulated. Back in the nineties, the FCC stepped in to regulate cross-carrier porting after carriers began abusing the process to put up artificial barriers to switching carriers. But, the telecom lobby is a powerful force, and the rules bear a lot of their influence. Carriers must allow number portability, but they have 30 days to comply with a request. And, a request has to contain specific information, including an LOA and a CSR for verifications, and these must match the losing carrier’s original records. It’s enough room for carriers to make the process more painful than it needs to be.

3. Even when executed correctly, porting is slow and manual.

Whether the process is handled by you or between the two carriers, porting requests are manual and clumsy. Every carrier has it’s own proprietary system and requires its own unique set of information. They require different types of verification, and follow-up communications aren’t standardized or necessarily clear or helpful.
All in all, porting is a messy headache, but most businesses only have to deal with it when they switch carriers. Because of all the headaches that come with switching carriers (including porting), most businesses don’t switch very often.
But, for organizations that manage a lot of phone numbers like managed communications companies or cloud communication applications, porting is a constant hassle. We’ve tried to alleviate some of that by centralizing all of our clients’ porting requests in one user portal. FastPort, our automated porting feature, standardizes the porting process and offers visibility every step of the way. And our Number Portability Check tool makes it easy to determine if your number can be ported.
Communications businesses can shorten their sales cycle by one month just by switching to using Telnyx’s time-saving CPaaS features. Contact our customer success team to learn more.
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