Update: After contacting Sprint customer support a second time, they back-tracked and said there's no way to do it without incurring an ETF. The only options available are:

1. They can create an additional line on the account, then allow the first line to be pulled out - thereby cancelled. While doing so would allow you to maintain your account, you'd lose number history and would incur an ETF.

2. She also told me they may be able to work some voodoo and somehow simultaneously swap numbers, meaning that the existing carrier number is ported out to Google Voice, while the Google Voice number is ported to the carrier. She didn't really have any details on how that would work, and I can't find anything on Google. I don't actually know that this would be possible - she didn't know what Google Voice is, and acted as if it were another carrier. As there's no human interaction or support with Google Voice, I don't know how that would work.

Update 2: Looks like T-Mobile customers may be in luck (thanks, Roger). Not sure if AT&T or Verizon can do it, though.

Today (and not for the first time), Artem and I got into a heated debate about whether or not your existing contract would be canceled if you ported your number to Google Voice. As a former T-Mobile dealer employee, I knew that you could request a new number, and was fairly certain that it would be just as easy to have them assign a new number if your current one was ported out. Artem was equally as certain that your contract would be canceled, no way around it and no questions asked.

After an hour of arguing and trying to get him to call his carrier's customer service, I finally caved and contacted mine (Sprint). Sixty seconds later, we had our answer: I was right. In fact, the process is quite simple - simply call customer service and explain that you're porting your number out, but want to continue your contract, and you just want them to assign you a new number. And... well, that's about it. From there, head over to Google Voice and go through the regular porting process.


Before you get carried away with porting fever, a few things to consider: in some circumstances, carriers will charge you for a new number. For me, it would be free, as seems to be the norm - but still, the possibility exists. Further, as mentioned before, Google charges $20 for the port.

[Source: Google Voice]

Aaron Gingrich
Aaron is a geek who has always had a passion for technology. When not working or writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing a game, or watching a movie.

  • John

    Just called my carrier (Sprint) because of this article. They told me it would not be possible to get a new number without first deactivating the old one... meaning I wouldn't be able to port it. Can you give any further information? Did you actually go through the process?

    • Aaron Gingrich

      Did you speak with the porting department? The representative I talked to said that all you need to do is talk to them first. I didn't go through the process, though.

  • John

    Yeah... I spoke with the porting department directly. They said there was no way to port an old number to a new service after getting it replaced by a new one... since creating the new number automatically disables the old one... and you can't port a inactive number.

    • Aaron Gingrich

      Spent 20 minutes on the phone with support, and turns out my first rep was wrong. Sorry to have wasted your time - post has been updated accordingly.

  • http://www.schoolauction.net Roger

    In between the first post and the update, I contacted T-Mobile to get this done. They told me that I should port away first, then call the T-Mobile activations line to do a "winback" - and then they would not charge me the $15 they would have otherwise.

    I started the port; we will see what happens.

    • Jason

      Please let us know how that goes. I have T-Mobile and am very interested to hear.

      • http://www.schoolauction.net Roger

        Okay, here's the update so far: my number ported over to Google Voice; my phone lost its Tmo access (it is now a teeny little wi-fi only Android Tablet).

        I called Tmo immediately; got through to Activations who said that yes, they could reactivate my account with a different number, no problem.

        BUT, if I wanted to continue to use my old SIM card, rather than go buy a new one, I had to wait another 24 hours. So I need to call back tonight to try once again.

        • http://www.schoolauction.net Roger

          Tmo just told me that it is all happening the way we want, and they waived the activation fee. There is yet another 24-hour waiting period until I can use the phone with the new number, however.

        • Deon

          Roger, so your number is now on Google voice and your T-Mobile phone has a new phone number and they waived the activation fee? Interesting. I can even go to my local t-mobile store and pickup a replacement SIM chip, but waiting a few days to get it all setup is no big deal for me because I have my work-cell, company issued. If my number ports to google voice I can then forward the calls to that phone. Everything is working now?

        • http://www.schoolauction.net Roger

          Deon - Not quite yet. The new number, although promised, has not yet arrived. They said that it would be 24-48 hours; it has been 30 or so so far.

          I'm getting a little antsy.

        • Deon

          Woo hoo. Called T-Mobile and confirmed pretty much everything you've said. I just wanted to have multiple reps confirm the same thing and have them document what I'm trying to do and what they've told me would be done in my account notes. I've begun the porting process to Google Voice now. See you on the other side, hopefully. Let me know how it went for you Roger.

      • http://www.schoolauction.net Roger

        Finally, this morning I got my new number from T-Mobile, on my old SIM card, without paying the activation fee. I'm a little annoyed that it took this long, but it is done.

        • Javier

          Can you give me an update on this? Your number was ported into Google Voice and you were given a new number for your cell phone?

        • http://www.schoolauction.net Roger

          Javier - yes. My number was ported to Google Voice; this technically cancelled my T-Mobile account. But I called T-Mobile and told them I was willing to be recovered, as long as I got a different number; they did so, and now I have my Google Voice number forward to my new cellphone number.

          I'm not totally happy with it; there appears to be a delay in making the connection when I get a call; I answer, and say hello, but the caller often doesn't hear my initial greeting; I have to repeat it. But overall, it's fine.

        • Chris D

          Thanks for the play-by-play. I just went through the same process and can confirm it still works as described.

          My situation: T-Mobile postpaid plan, out of contract, with grandfathered text and data plans (no longer offered).

          Here's what I did:

          Day 1, 9:30pm: Called T-Mo customer service and explained that I wanted to port out my number and immediately reactivate the line with a new number. Rep understood and promised I wouldn't lose grandfathered text/data plans. I asked if there is a charge for getting a blank SIM at a T-Mo corporate store and he said yes, but then he kindly put a note on my account asking store reps to comp it.

          Day 1, 10pm: Requested number port on the Google Voice web site. GV said it should take under 24 hours.

          Day 2, 9am: Old number still active on T-Mobile. Went to the store and asked for a blank SIM card. Rep was a bit confused but gave me one at no cost.

          Day 2, 9:30pm: Getting close to 24 hours but the old number is still active on T-Mobile. Saw a GV forum post suggesting it might help to add a $10 credit to GV (you can easily refund it later), which I did just for kicks.

          Day 2, 10pm: At almost exactly the 24-hour mark, the old number completed porting to GV. I immediately called T-Mo to reactivate the line onto the blank SIM card. Was told the activation can take up to 24 hours (i.e. about the same time as reusing the original SIM anyway).

          Day 3, 2:30pm: New SIM/phone number became active (took about 16 hours). I reregistered on My T-Mobile and was upset to see that my old text and data plans got swapped for newer, crappier plans. Called T-Mo and explained that I wanted my old text/data back. First rep tried but screwed it up, but on my second call the next rep made it happen (she had to get a supervisor involved).

          End result: Same out-of-contract plan with grandfathered text/data under a new number, with my old number on Google Voice. My old billing statements etc. are still accessible in My T-Mobile. Very pleased.

          As mentioned elsewhere, incoming text messages will probably fail to reach you for about 2 days after the port. That was my experience (I had friends with different carriers send me test messages).

    • Deon

      But if you do a 'winback' it ports the number back to them, taking it away from Google. When I left ATT for T-Mobile (Not the brightest idea I ever had) and ported my number to T-Mobile, I encountered an issue with their stupid billing system (T-mobiles), so I called ATT and had them do something like a winback and when they did. it pulled the number away from T-Mobile back to ATT.

      • http://www.schoolauction.net Roger

        Thanks for the heads-up. I won't agree to that. If I have to, I'll get a new account; I'm on the Even More Plus with Tmo, so it is contract-free anyway.

        Anyone have any experience with Simple Mobile?

        • Chris

          I'm on the contract free plan for TMobile and did the port. It worked quite well, but you still incur the account activation fee. I think its 35 bucks. The other thing you can do is cancel all text messaging after the first month, since you won't give your new cell number out to anyone and Google Voice gives you free texts.

  • hardoncollider

    Sprint systems only permits a canceled line to be restored if all Primary Telephone Number resources are available, which includes the mobile number. It's possible, if you can sweet talk a rep, to have them perform a web-chat and have your PTN reserved, which will save it in a reservation ID, then change your primary line's PTN to whatever.

    Ask to have a new line created, without contract or an activation fee, and the PTN be changed using the reservation ID, which will use your old PTN on the new line. Then port out the second line with no contract, as you're still serving the original contract on the original line.

    This is technically against Sprint policy as creating lines just to cancel them causes issues with reporting. But hey, most of Sprint's staff is highly undereducated, so you may just luck out.

  • Romero

    So when porting, does it mean you no longer have a contract and/or service with (Sprint in my case) and now you have a google phone line? Who provides you with the internet/data connection for the unit (phone?)

  • David

    Can a vonage number be ported to google voice?