Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology makes telephone service available over the internet by converting voice to digital signals. Making the switch from traditional landline telephone service requires setting up a VoIP phone or phone adapter. Users switching to VoIP phone service can either request a new phone number, or choose to port (transfer) an existing phone number to the new VoIP provider.
Connecting to VoIP Service
Connecting to a VoIP service requires an Internet connection and either an adapter, available from the VoIP provider, or a dedicated VoIP telephone handset. Adapters connect an existing telephone using landline service to an Internet modem. The phone jack is connected to the adapter, and the adapter in turn is connected to a port on the modem, and VoIP service is immediately running. Users can bypass the adapter by purchasing a VoIP handset which already contains Internet Protocol (IP) components needed to run VoIP service. These handsets can be plugged directly into a spare port on the router connected to the modem. VoIP adapters or handsets should never be plugged directly into telephone jacks.
VoIP and Phone Numbers
When starting VoIP service, users can request a new "virtual" phone number from the provider, or elect to keep an existing phone number, which is ported from the current provider to the new VoIP service. Under current FCC rules concerning local number portability, existing service providers cannot refuse to port a user's phone number to a new carrier, whether for traditional land line service or VoIP.
Porting an Existing Number
To transfer an existing telephone number to a new VoIP provider, users must contact the new provider with a request to port the number from the current service. Users are asked to provide identifying information including the telephone number, customer account number, name and address, which must match on both the current and new accounts. A simple porting request should be accomplished within one business day, although until the porting request is completed, users may experience an overlap in service, with both VoIP and analog phones working at the same time. Once the porting request is completed, service can be terminated with the previous carrier.
Considerations When Porting Numbers
Generally, existing telephone numbers can be ported from landline service to VoIP only within the same geographical area. A number can be ported only if the current provider account is still active; if a user terminates the current service before starting VoIP service, the existing phone number is no longer available for porting. A number can still be ported, even if fees are outstanding on the previous account.
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