Aside from maybe my email address, my home phone number has probably been the most consistent in my adult life.
Back when I first moved to Florida in 2003, I got a landline from Verizon because I figured that’s what you do when you’re an adult! Over the years, obviously, I used it less and less, to the point where eventually I ported it from Verizon to a VoIP provider to significantly reduce the cost and now for many years I haven’t even had a phone plugged into it and instead only used it as a voicemail number!
My reasoning has always been that I like having a phone number to give out to people and companies that isn’t my cell phone so if they spam it with sales calls, I don’t really care.
Plus, when I swapped my cell # over to a Florida number after moving, they were cool enough to let me pick the number so it matches with my home phone (e.g. 813-555-1234 and 813-666-1234), which I just think is kind of neat! 🙂
Still, it’s admittedly silly to pay for something that you hardly ever use, so a while back I decided that it made the most sense to eventually port my number over to Google Voice where it could live for free as a voicemail number and I’d stop getting sales emails from my provider every few months begging for me to “add two years of service for only $180” because they perpetually feel like they’re almost about to go out of business…
The trouble is, Google won’t port in landline numbers, but thankfully there’s a known workaround these days where you can first port your landline over to a prepaid cell phone and then Google will take it from there like it’s no big deal!
So that’s what I did just before the new year – I went into Walmart and asked for the cheapest prepaid phone that they had. which is apparently “Walmart Family Mobile” aka TracFone. I submitted my port request via their website the next day and got a response surprisingly fast. The first request got rejected for an “invalid account number” because their form forced me to populate one that I didn’t have, so I just entered my phone number again instead. After confirming with my old provider that I didn’t have one, I asked TracFone to resubmit it without one and it got confirmed right away.
Fun Fact – For my first couple of years in Florida, I worked support for the number portability process and it was much clunkier than it is today! Wireless to wireless ports were fairly seamless, but porting from a landline could literally take weeks … some carriers wouldn’t even talk to us until they’d had a request for upwards of a week, only to then reject it back for something mundane! Thankfully, it seems that now most of the wireline process is automated as well…
The only real hiccup that I ran into was my TracFone didn’t fully provision after the port-in completed, so it would only intermittently receive calls and/or text messages. This was a problem because Google Voice makes a test call to confirm ownership of the number before you can port it, so I ended up spending about an hour on the phone with a poor girl from tech support trying to figure out what was wrong. I’m still not entirely convinced that she actually did anything because she was just as surprised as I was when it magically started working, but half an hour later I submitted my second port request through Google and a day after that!
I’m still working on fine tuning the settings – voicemails are coming to my email as expected, but I’d love to have it ignore messages that are only a second or two long because they were clearly hang-ups. And I need to build up a new list of spam numbers because I didn’t bother trying to carry that over from my old provider.
I did think it was funny when I canceled my old VoIP service that their portal said that my number had been active with them for 3,732 days, or a little over 10 years!
Should be interesting to see if that thing is still hanging around another ten years from now… 😉