Let us give it to you straight.
Porting a phone number in North America can be a 1-7-days long process. It all lands on various contributing factors like number type, the previous service provider, and the country you are porting in.
When we say 1-7 days, this estimate is from the time of port submission to the time of port completion. Globally, the duration can differ significantly based on the country.
Now let’s jump into specifics.
What is number porting?
Number porting is the process of transferring your active phone number from one service provider to another. Why do businesses port numbers you ask? Potentially because they are:
- Switching service providers: They might benefit from moving to a provider that offers the quality, cost, support, features, or coverage they need.
- Scaling to new markets: They might want to break into new markets and maintain familiar numbers that are attached to their brand.
- Consolidating vendors: Bringing more of your communication to fewer carriers saves you time and money. That’s no reason to lose the numbers that identify your or your customers’ business.
- Facing PSTN shutdown: PSTN lines are ceasing soon requiring wireline users to switch to VoIP services. The copper cables are going away. Most major providers in the U.S. have already switched and PSTN will go dark in the U.K. by 2025.
- Maintaining customer relationships: If customers are used to dialing in a certain number to reach a business, it helps to port those numbers while switching carriers/locations to avoid inconvenience or confusion.
Businesses are reliant on their defining phone numbers. So they prefer to port but end up dreading the process, especially when moving numbers in bulk. Porting dread can keep businesses from freely committing to phone numbers or can become a roadblock in scaling and consolidation.
Read on to understand why porting is not scary and see a real-world example of how businesses turn porting into a strength with automation.
How long does it take to port a number?
The time it takes to port a number can vary depending on several factors including the number type, the complexity of the request, the country/region, and the processes of the carriers involved.
Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to port numbers. For example, some typical times Bandwidth takes to get port orders completed (subject to change due to errors in processing) are:
In the U.S.:
- Standard, Simple, and Toll-Free ports: 1-7 business days
- Complex and project ports: 3-4 weeks (though it may go quicker!)
For porting numbers globally, different lead times apply due to the local porting framework of that country.
Can you help speed up your number porting?
You sure can! If you follow all the processes with your participating carriers to eliminate port rejection, you can make sure your port request goes through faster (barring carrier delays).
How, you ask? To start with, you can:
- Check portability: You can check if your number is portable first using Bandwidth’s portability checker.
- Verify information: Provide accurate and complete information so that the new carrier doesn’t have to go back and forth verifying and requesting additional information.
- Clear contractual obligations: The new carrier may not be able to approve the port request until your outstanding balance is paid or contractual obligations are fulfilled with the current carrier.
Why does number porting take so long?
Number porting can drag simply because it’s a complex process involving several participants, requiring coordination between multiple carriers, compliance with regulations and policies, and validation and verification of information.
The cogs of porting include:
- Verification: The porting process involves validating information between current and new carriers to ensure accuracy which can be difficult considering one carrier is losing business.
- Carrier coordination: Porting requires carriers to coordinate over information verification. Their processes can vary and cause delays. Carriers can be unresponsive.
- Technical issues: Technical issues such as errors in the porting request, network issues, or system downtime can delay the process and require additional time to resolve.
- Regulations and policies: The porting process is subject to regulations and policies that govern the process. These vary by region and the type of numbers being ported, and compliance with them can add time overheads.
- Volume: Carriers may be overwhelmed by a high volume of porting requests, causing delays in processing requests. Depending on the number volume in your request, carriers may have different SLAs.
Porting automation helps!
While wondering how long it takes to port a number, consider automation. Automation can streamline the process by eliminating manual tasks, reducing errors, and increasing efficiency.
With automation, you will:
- Spend less time doing manual, repetitive steps
- Speed up the process significantly
- See information verified electronically
- Reduce the need for manual intervention, especially off-hours
That said, the exact time it takes to port a number with or without automation will depend on the specific circumstances of the request. It’s always a good idea to check with the carriers involved to get an estimate of how long number porting might take.
Happy number porting with APIs
Bandwidth’s number porting API provides a programmatic way to automate the porting process (even bulk porting!), reducing the need for manual tasks and streamlining the overall process. You can check the status of existing requests, and receive notifications when requests are complete.
Enterprise-scale customers like VOIPO successfully use Bandwidth’s number management APIs to not just port but also build new features directly for their end-users. With these APIs they have:
- Simplified porting: with built-in porting workflows to establish porting dates and to submit and manage new orders in compliance with local regulations.
- Scaled: with regulatory workflows for multiple countries built into a single porting API.
- Driven integration: with porting workflows that can be plugged into their own platform and be directly available to their end users.
- Gained control: with real-time insights as their numbers move through the porting process.
- Reduced human errors: by eliminating repetitive manual steps and features to review port orders.
- Felt supported: with Bandwidth porting pros who solve hold-ups and maintain carrier relationships to get you back to business fast.