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Number porting: What is it and why do you need to know about it?

Numbers & number porting

You don’t have to be tech-savvy to get to grips with number porting

When you’re looking to move to a new telephone provider you will hear the phrase a lot, but what exactly is ‘number porting’ and why do you need to do it?


What is number porting?

Number porting is the process of moving a telephone number from one communications provider (CP) to another. The process may incur a fee, depending on the CP you’re moving from and the one you join.

If customers are used to reaching you through your current number, you may not wish to establish a new one. In this case, the only option is to port your number when you change providers. For example, if you’re switching from BT to Plusnet (or better yet, from any provider to Moneypenny *wink wink*) and want to keep your existing number, you’ll need to port your number.


Why change communications providers?

In the UK, telephone numbers are issued by Ofcom. These are generally issued in ‘ranges’ which are groups of phone numbers. Once a communication provider has their range allocation (or multiple allocations), they are responsible for terminating those numbers.

Note: In this context, ‘terminating’ is the act of delivering outbound calls to numbers dialled.

In our experience, business owners choose to switch providers either because they have found a cheaper alternative, are unhappy with the service they’re receiving, need an outsourced solution that better suits their business needs, or a combination of these reasons.


What’s involved in the porting process?

Communications providers (CPs) arrange for their number ranges to be terminated by a network operator (NO). In some cases, a CP is also a NO and can do this for themselves, but usually they are two separate entities.

When a number is ported, the original provider transfers responsibility for terminating a phone number to the new one. In order for this to happen, a ‘porting agreement’ must exist between the two. There must also be a ‘number portability transit path’ between the network operators for both communications providers.


How Long Does Number Porting Take?

The length of time it takes to move a number from one provider to the next depends on several factors, but the process typically takes a few days to a week. The number porting transfer is taken care of by the two carriers involved. Any down-time regarding the phone number’s functionality should be negligible.


What about Mobile Number Porting?

In theory, mobile number porting has always been simple enough, you just need a new SIM card and a code to give to your new carrier. However – according to many anecdotes – the process of changing a mobile number provider was previously a headache; mainly because it was so challenging to acquire your Porting Authorisation Code, AKA your “PAC” code.


However, thanks to legislation that came into effect in 2019, mobile users can now get their previously elusive PAC code with a single free text. This code can then be given to your new carrier or network provider, who will usually send a new SIM card to you. Then you should then be good to go!


Head spinning yet? Don’t worry, this can all be handled by the providers. If you were porting to Moneypenny, we’d check whether our provider already has a porting agreement in place with your current provider. We would also need a letter of authority from you on company headed paper, giving your permission for the port to take place.

From there, it’s just a case of providing information like your full name, address and post code or account number associated with the telephone number you’re porting. This process will usually take a few weeks, depending on how many numbers are involved.


What if you don’t want to keep your phone number?

If number porting doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you’re looking to change the type of number you use for work, or simply want a fresh start with a new regional, national or freephone number, we can help.

Moneypenny is the UK’s leading Telephone Answering and Live Chat provider, offering communications solutions for businesses of all sizes. With our Clever Numbers service, you can have a new regional, national or freephone business telephone number set up in minutes, routed anywhere you choose. It’s a simple process, and you can even pick your own number.


For as little as £10 a month, you will impress new customers, improve brand credibility, keep a UK dialling tone (and call rates) when you go abroad and enjoy the flexibility of taking business calls on the move. Any questions? Call us on 0333 202 1005.

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