Port your Vonage phone number to Google Voice – A step by step guide

Porting Vonage

Overview

The most up-to-date version of this guide can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Y6bYwC2VDit9eAnlcLF2ZSZETsDJ3wQumZ4rmaqF_Go/edit

I have found a lot of information scattered all over the Google Voice forum and the internet about how this is done. Some of it is long-winded and confusing. I have attempted to list the steps in a short and accurate fashion.

First, this is possible, but porting a phone number from Vonage directly to Google Voice is not possible. Vonage makes porting a number VERY difficult and this is likely the reason Google Voice doesn’t want to deal with Vonage. However, many people have had success by porting the Vonage number to a mobile phone first, and then porting it to Google Voice. IMPORTANT: Pick a major mobile carrier! See addendum for more info.

It can take somewhere between 6 and 10 days if there are no problems, Google charges $20 to port a number into Google Voice, and there’s no guarantee that the port from the pre-paid phone to Google voice will work. That said, it’s not equivalent to “none of them will work” or “it’s not likely that any of them will work.” I just mean there’s no way to ensure that the number is portable from the pre-paid phone to Google Voice. All you can do is reduce the chance of failure by picking a pre-paid phone from a major carrier. T-Mobile seems to be the most reliable.

Finally, understand what Google Voice is and what it isn’t. For example, Google voice is not a calling plan. You’ll need a working phone to use it. I have listed the costs I have paid with this technique but realize there may be early termination fees if your situation is different. In other words, if you port the number for a phone where you are in the middle of a 2 year contract, you will pay an early termination fee. See the Google Voice “About” video (below) and understand everything there is to know about Google Voice before you begin. View the “Number porting” video here: http://www.google.com/googlevoice/about.html It may be best to view all the videos on this page, but at least view the “Number Porting” video.

The most up-to-date version of this guide can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Y6bYwC2VDit9eAnlcLF2ZSZETsDJ3wQumZ4rmaqF_Go/edit

Prerequisites

You must have:

  • A Vonage phone
  • A Google account with Google Wallet
  • A good pleasant attitude and patience

Please understand:

  • The fastest this can happen is 6 days. There are many ways you can un-intentionally delay the process. Read this entire guide from top to bottom before you begin!
  • You will need to purchase a pre-paid phone and buy minutes. Pick a major carrier and choose the cheapest phone and the cheapest plan. I purchased a $70 phone and added $10 of minutes/texts on the “pay-as-you-go” plan. Note: Some people have had success bringing an old cell phone to T-Mobile and buying a $9 sim card. That seems to work but that wasn’t an option for me because I didn’t have an old T-Mobile phone.
  • You will need to give Google $20 to port your number and pay via Google Wallet.
  • After the process is done you can sell the pre-paid phone and perhaps even your house phone that was working with the Vonage service. Place these item(s) on Craigslist or eBay to re-coup some of your expenses. Remember: Ditching Vonage means not pay them $28+ a month… so you will quickly recover any expense.

The most up-to-date version of this guide can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Y6bYwC2VDit9eAnlcLF2ZSZETsDJ3wQumZ4rmaqF_Go/edit

STEP BY STEP GUIDE

STEP 0 – Prep work

Obtain your Vonage account credentials. If the temporary cell phone carrier (in this example, T-Mobile) doesn’t get ALL your Vonage information, Vonage will stop the process and refuse to allow the port to go through. If you provide partial or incorrect information, this will delay the process. Keep in mind, you may not be asked for all of this information but you MUST make sure T-Mobile has each of the four items listed below. If T-Mobile doesn’t ask, give it to them anyway.

  • Your Vonage Phone number (obviously)
  • Your Vonage Account ID
    • This is NOT your Vonage phone number! You can find this number by logging into your Vonage account page. It’s listed in small text in the upper right of your account page on Vonage’s website.
  • Your Vonage pin number
    • This is a four digit number you set up when you first configured your Vonage account.
  • Your Vonage User Name.
    • This is what you use to log into your Vonage account page.

It’s really crappy that Vonage makes you provide all of this information to T-Mobile. Do yourself a favor and get this information before you start anything.

Again, if partial or inaccurate information is provided, Vonage will happily start the process for you, only to screw you days later when they inform you they are unable to continue because they need more information. I have even heard people complain that mailing a letter was the only way to correct inaccurate or missing information.

Don’t let them delay the process! Have all your info before you start!

See the addendum at the end of this doc so you understand what can cause this process to fail.

Optional: Watch the “About Google Voice” video to learn more about Google Voice.

STEP 1 – Buy a Pre-Paid mobile phone and port the Vonage number

Choose a major carrier: T-Mobile, AT&T, or Verizon. Have all your Vonage information ready. Many people have had success with T-Mobile but there are success and failure stories with every pre-paid carrier. When you buy the pre-paid phone, ask the sales agent to port your Vonage number. See “my experience” section below.

STEP 2 – Wait for the port to T-Mobile to be complete

This will take at least 5 days… maybe longer. Many people act too quickly and this delays the process. Your Vonage service must be fully deactivated. See the “time-line” below.

STEP 3 – Port to Google Voice

You must have Google Wallet set up within your Google account. After Google Wallet is set up, go to google.com/voice and activate the Google Voice service. Choose: “I want to port my number” and follow the process. Hopefully, you will be told your number is eligible to be ported and you will be asked to provide your T-Mobile credentials, including your T-Mobile account number. If you’re using a pre-paid phone, your T-Mobile account number is your 10 digit phone number. Complete the steps, pay your $20 via Google Wallet and wait. UPDATE: As of January 2012, the form does not ask you for your T-Mobile PIN the first time you use it. The status of your port will be “in progress” and you’ll get an email saying that there’s a problem and that you must enter this PIN to continue. This email may arrive as quickly as 10 minutes or as long as 10 hours. Follow the instructions contained within this email to enter your PIN. After doing so, the port will be complete in approximately 24 hours.

STEP 4 – Configure Google Voice

After the port to Google Voice is complete, configure it to forward calls to an existing phone.

Enjoy not paying $28 a month to Vonage! Sell your pre-paid phone to recover some of your expenses.

The most up-to-date version of this guide can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Y6bYwC2VDit9eAnlcLF2ZSZETsDJ3wQumZ4rmaqF_Go/edit

My Experience

I walked into a T-Mobile retail store and said I would like to purchase a new pre-paid phone and port my Vonage number to it. The sales rep said that was possible and I would need to purchase the phone with a temporary number, activate the phone in store, and then the porting process could begin. She said the port may take up to 48 hours. So, I gave her my Vonage information and she wrote it on a note pad. I purchased and activated the phone with a temporary number. At that point the sales agent said I could leave while she took take care of the porting process. I chose to stay because I wanted to make sure everything went smoothly because I knew Vonage could be very difficult about letting go of customers. She used the store phone to call the T-Mobile corporate office and she provided my Vonage information to someone in the T-Mobile porting department. Again, I was listening to this conversation in the store and I made sure every number and letter the sales rep provided to the porting agent was accurate. For example, one character of my Vonage password was the letter “O” and I made sure the agent knew this was a letter and not the number zero (sometimes people enter zero when they hear letter “O”). I was pleasant about the whole thing. After her call was done she wrote an 800 number and a reference ID on a piece of paper and said if I didn’t hear anything in 48 hours to call that 800 number.

I went home and jumped on T-Mobile’s website and entered my new T-Mobile account credentials so I can manage the phone’s features. This is where you can add minutes, etc. You hopefully won’t need to add any minutes. I mainly did this because the site also shows the phone number attached to the T-Mobile phone. This phone number will change throughout the porting process and it’s a nice indicator that things are going smoothly. The port took a few days to complete. I was Lucky because I never spoke to Vonage directly. Some people aren’t so lucky.

The Google Voice porting process started off a little bumpy. At first, Google Voice said my number was not eligible for porting because my carrier wasn’t supported. This was a huge disappointment because I knew there was a chance that the port to Google Voice from a pre-paid plan could fail even if I did everything right. I decided to wait a few more hours and try again. When I did, my number was magically “available for porting”… I was so thrilled! The remainder of the information I provided (T-Mobile billing address, etc.) was accepted right away and I got the “port in process” status to show. Again, I was feeling pretty good because I knew it would only take about 24 hours to finish this process. Unfortunately, I got an email the following morning saying there was a problem. The error message said I incorrectly entered my T-Mobile pin number. I followed the link back to the Google Voice site. There was a form that allowed me to re-enter my T-Mobile PIN. Once again the status was: “port in progress.” Frankly, I don’t remember entering my PIN the first time but oh well. UPDATE: Confirmed. The form does not ask you for a PIN number the first time. However, if you follow the link from the email message that contained the error, you can enter the T-Mobile PIN and the process will work.

The following day the entire process was complete and my phone number that originally was on Vonage ended up on Google Voice. Oh Yeah!

The most up-to-date version of this guide can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Y6bYwC2VDit9eAnlcLF2ZSZETsDJ3wQumZ4rmaqF_Go/edit

Timeline

Day 1, Purchased T-Mo phone, started Vonage transfer

Vonage Phone T-Mo Pre-Paid phone
Places calls from: Desired Number T-Mobile Temporary Number
Receives calls from: Desired Number T-Mobile Temporary Number

Note: T-Mo account page shows the temporary T-Mo number

Day 2

Vonage Phone T-Mo Pre-Paid phone
Places calls from: Desired Number Desired Number
Receives calls from: Desired Number T-Mobile Temporary Number

Note: T-Mo account page shows Vonage number

Day 3

Vonage Phone T-Mo Pre-Paid phone
Places calls from: Desired Number Desired Number
Receives calls from: n/a Desired Number

Day 5, Got an email from Vonage saying account was closed. Vonage phone contained no dial tone. Vonage account was completely shut down.

Vonage Phone T-Mo Pre-Paid phone
Places calls from: n/a Desired Number
Receives calls from: n/a Desired Number

Note: I started the Google Voice port

Day 6

Google Voice port stalled due to an incorrect T-Mo pin number I entered. I provided the right number and the port was “in progress” once again.

Day 7

T-Mo’s web site no longer allowed me to log in. Shortly after the process was DONE! Google Voice port completed successfully!

Addendum – Reasons for failure

There are currently several reasons why the port to Google voice may fail, but most likely one of the following:

  • The number is not a mobile number. We can only port mobile numbers at this stage. We hope to extend this to non-mobile numbers in the future. Whether the number was previously a mobile number makes no difference in this case. If it’s not a mobile number now, we cannot port it.
  • The number is mobile but not from a supported operator. We currently only support Alltel, ATT, Sprint, T-Mobile & Verizon
  • The number is from one of the supported operators, but not from a supported plan (corporate accounts, some prepaid plans and some MVNOs). We are working on adding details for MVNO support.
  • The number is from an area we cannot support. Although we do cover, through our carrier operators, the majority of the population, there are area codes or subdivision of area codes we cannot support.
  • The porting request falls during a maintenance window. The porting tool is currently unavailable for scheduled downtime from Saturday 9PM to Sunday 9AM PST

Keep in mind that some of the error codes are kind of vague. Google is working on surfacing more detailed response messages, so you will know what the reason is for the inability to port.

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3 Responses to Port your Vonage phone number to Google Voice – A step by step guide

  1. Amanda says:

    Thanks, this has been helpful! My port to Google Voice is in progress. Just wanted to tell you that I also go the “incorrect pin” error message and definitely was not prompted to enter a pin on the first go-around.

  2. Amanda says:

    I’ve completed the port and I added an Obi VOIP bridge, so I now receive and make google voice calls for free on my landline phone! Thanks for the tutorial!

  3. Matt: You are so nice to detail your process for porting a Vonage number to Google. Thanks!

    Amanda: Kudos for discovering the Obi gadget. It’s great and works flawlessly (usually).

    It may be worth noting that the Google message I received indicated the fee to “change” the Google Voice number is now only $10. There is also vague information about “mak[ing] your old number permanent for a one-time $20.00 fee.” But, what that means is far from obvious.

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