Cheapest way to keep landline phone number but not service
June 17, 2016 9:05 AM   Subscribe

I have a VOIP landline (through Time Warner Cable). I want to get rid of my landline service but keep that phone number and have it forward to my cell phone (Verizon). What is the cheapest and easiest way for me to do that? Thank you!
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell to Technology (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You can port your number to Google Voice but it's not a simple process. Unless it's changed in the last year or so, you can only port a wireless number to Google Voice, so you'll have to first port your landline number to a wireless carrier (I think most people port to a pre-paid T-Mobile account or to an AT&T GoPhone). Once you've done that, then you can port the now-wireless number to Google Voice. The porting process takes time and is prone to glitches (and you'll want to consult a good guide to the process -- like this one, this one, or this one). In addition to the costs you'll incur to port to a wireless number (which may require a new phone if the one you have isn't unlocked, as well as a SIM card with some amount of minutes), Google will charge you $20 to port your number in. Budget at least two or three weeks for the whole process to complete, and that's assuming all the ports complete in the time they are supposed to (which may not happen automatically and might require some follow up calls to customer care). At the end of it all, though, you will have your current landline number as a Google Voice number, which you can then forward to your current wireless number. BOOM.
posted by devinemissk at 9:30 AM on June 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you can only port to Google Voice (which is basically free) from a wireless number, and if you have to get a new wireless phone for that, the cheapest route may be to buy a Virgin off-the-shelf phone which I've seen for $10 at a local 7-11. That would avoid buying a SIM with pre-paid minutes from T-Mo.
posted by anadem at 9:38 AM on June 17, 2016

If you port it to Anveo or, you can set up forwarding to another number pretty easily and it'll be like $5/month or less to maintain the number (depends on whether you get an unlimited minutes plan or pay for the number and also a penny or so per minute). If you want to really get into it, you can run a SIP program on your phone and receive calls that way, but that's overkill for a single personal number. Since you won't be making outgoing calls, you shouldn't need to setup or pay for E911. I've enjoyed working with support people from both of these specific companies and porting numbers is an everyday thing for them, but there are dozens of VOIP providers who can do the exact same thing for close to the exact same cost.
posted by mattamatic at 11:26 AM on June 17, 2016

I've been looking at this too. Easier than roundabout porting to Google is NumberBarn. They have levels of plans.
posted by monopas at 11:41 AM on June 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

Note that once you port to Google Voice, you pay nothing. NumberBarn is pretty cheap -- it looks like as low as $2/month -- but you'll still pay the $20 port fee to Google Voice. So at $2/month, NumberBarn is only cheaper if you only keep the service for a year or so -- after 12 months, you'll have paid about as much to NumberBarn as you would have for a cheap burner phone and a handful of minutes. Right now, for instance, you can get a cheap Kyocera T-Mobile phone at WalMart for $7, and you can get a prepaid SIM starter kit from T-Mobile for $4 (with the current promotion). Another $10 for 100 prepaid minutes, and you're all set for $21 dollars -- about 10.5 months of NumberBarn. (Or, as anadem notes, you can buy a prepaid Virgin phone for $10 -- though I'm not sure if you'd still have to buy minutes, which is going to run you at least $10.)

Another option would be to set up an additional line on your current wireless plan, which will probably cost you about $9, and (if you can) swap in that new SIM to the phone you already have -- saving you the cost of a new phone, but possibly increasing your overall costs, depending on how your current plan is configured. The inconvenience factor is lower, though.

Of course, this only factors actual dollars -- your time is worth something, too. If going through the process to get all of the bits and pieces needed to port your landline to Google Voice is time you don't want to spend (or don't have to spend), a low-recurring fee service like NumberBarn may be the better choice.
posted by devinemissk at 12:59 PM on June 17, 2016

Are you totally opposed to having a landline, or is it that you're sick of paying TWC their absurd fee? Because you can use Ooma for VOIP for the cost of a used box (around $50?) and then monthly taxes (under $5), and I believe you can set it up to forward to other numbers. Not much more expensive than the Google Voice port, and you still have a landline if you want it.
posted by praemunire at 1:16 PM on June 17, 2016

I will caution against porting a number in to one of the cheapo MVNO carriers like virgin/straight talk/tracfone/etc. Their customer service lines are staffed by bozos, and they are notorious for being IMPOSSIBLE to port numbers out from. When i ported my ancient number in to one of them, i knew it was probably going in to that black hole possibly forever. They're also SLOW. Verizon ported out my number in like... an hour. Those carriers often take days or longer, if ever.

Several friends of mine have horror stories about this where they just gave up because they got tired of having a weird temp number and endlessly being pending/having errors and intermittent service etc.

If i was going to do this, i'd only do it with one of the Big Name Carriers prepaid plans and would just expect to eat the $25-30 their cheapest tier of service for a month costs. There are occasionally promo deals for less than that, too.
posted by emptythought at 2:01 PM on June 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I just realized my math was wrong. You won't pay the $20 Google voice port fee if you use number barn. So that does make the Google voice/wireless port option a little more expensive on the front end. Number barn is cheaper if you keep the service for less than two years. If you keep the service for more than two years, porting to Google voice is still the cheaper way to go.
posted by devinemissk at 2:07 PM on June 17, 2016

Looking at Number Barn, the $2/month option is for number parking which only greets callers with a message and DOES NOT forward the call to a new number. They have more expensive plans for call forwarding (at least $6/month). They might be useful as an intermediate step towards porting to Google Voice, but they're going to be much more expensive than Google Voice in the long run.
posted by Aleyn at 4:35 PM on June 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

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