Porting Your Home Number to Google Voice

As of January 25, 2011, Google began allowing individuals to port their mobile numbers to their free Google Voice service. For those of you wishing to port your home number to Google Voice, such an option has not been announced. To get around this limitation, you can use a mobile provider as a middle man in order to allow you to transfer your home number into Google Voice. I recently went through the process and it went off without a hitch. Below are the steps required to get this to work.
  • You need home phone service that has a number that can be ported out. In my case, I was using a pre-paid VoIP provider. My service was expiring in February, so the stars aligned for this to work out. You should not cancel your service or else the port from here will not work. You will need your account number and any PIN or passcodes associated with this account. Check with your provider prior to buying a GoPhone so that you can initiate your port at checkout.

  • You need to purchase a phone from a mobile provider supported by Google Voice for porting. The easiest option for me was an AT&T GoPhone. They frequently have refurbished phones for less than $6 (including shipping!). The only gotcha is that you'll have to add money to your phone (we'll get to this later).
So, assuming you have a home phone number that is active and can be ported, go over to AT&T , select "GoPhone Prepaid" for the service type and buy yourself the cheapest GoPhone you can buy (look for refurbished ones). Buy just the phone (you can remove the pre-paid minute cards from the package before checkout). The GoPhone plan that you choose does not matter; I picked the $0.10/min plan. During checkout, make sure you select the option to port your number to your new GoPhone. The porting option will ask for your account number (for the number your are porting into AT&T), any passcodes or PIN numbers associated with the account, and your SSN (I'm not sure if SSN is needed; I was reluctant to give it since my VoIP provider did not have it; you may be able to fill this in with zeros :)).

Your GoPhone should arrive within 2 days and the port from your current provider should not take longer than a week (it was 4 business days for me). An e-mail from AT&T will indicate that the porting process has been initiated and give you an idea of when it will be complete. They will provide you with a link to http://www.wireless.att.com/lnp for you to keep track of your porting status. Your GoPhone will not work until your port process is complete through (it will say invalid SIM). So it's a waiting game until your port to AT&T is complete.

Return to http://www.wireless.att.com/lnp on the date and time originally provided by AT&T as to when your port would be complete. The status should change to "Confirmed" (and no date will be listed) and there will be a box under this that will initiate a Chat with AT&T customer service (I only saw this box in Firefox, not in Safari). I initiated a chat and provided them the number I wished to port and told them that it was supposed to be completed today. They took my address and name and came back and said that they had finalized the porting process and for me to reboot my phone. I also asked them for my account number should I need to call AT&T back. At this point, it may be worth trying to convince the CSR that you would like a small amount (1-2 minutes) of talk credits added to your account to test your phone (since you only need to be able to have GV call you once to initiate the port). I tried, but was unsuccessful.

Once you reboot your phone, you will be sent a few text messages, one being your PIN number which is used to access the GoPhone website. You will need to go here, login, and add the minimum amount to your account (currently $15). If you were able to convince the CSR to give you a credit, then you can skip this step.

Once your GoPhone is up and running, login to your Google Voice account and click the option beside your phone number to "Change/Port". Enter the number you just ported to AT&T and hopefully it will say that porting is available for your number. If it does not say this, then you may need to wait a day and try again, but in my experience, I was able to port away from AT&T the same day that I ported into AT&T. You will need to provide Google with your AT&T GoPhone account number, name, address, phone number and pay $20 to Google for the port. 24 hours later, your account will be updated with your new phone number, and your old Google Voice number will continue to ring to your account for 90 days.

That's the process in a nutshell. The total cost for me to port to Google Voice from my original VoIP provider was just under $40. Well worth it when you consider it's feature-packed, free service which makes VoIP solutions (like Ooma) even more powerful that much costlier paid solutions.
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