Parking or forwarding my phone number, while living abroad
June 21, 2007 11:55 AM   Subscribe

I know that phone numbers can be moved from carrier to carrier, but I'm moving outside the country for a while. Can I "park" my fantastic mobile number and reclaim it when I return?

I live in the US, and I'm moving to Ireland for at least a year, but I don't want to give up my phone number (which is currently with AT&T née Cingular). In best to worst order, I want:

- calls to go to my new phone,
- calls to go to voice-mail,
- my number to be disabled with a message, or
- my number to be disabled.

When I return, I want to resume using my number, in any case.

I know of services like GrandCentral and YouMail for telephony hacks, and LNP to Skype e.g. is impossible -- all have some essential piece missing. How can I safeguard my phone number, and perhaps even use it in some capacity, without spending more than, say USD$100 per year?
posted by cmiller to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You might want to find out what the cheapest plan is that your provider offers. Mine has a $10/month emergency plan that would let you keep your number without much more than $100/year.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:57 AM on June 21, 2007

You can transfer your number to a pre-paid operator like Virgin America, and then pay $15 every 3 months to keep it active. So that would be $60 / year + a cheapo phone.
posted by smackfu at 11:58 AM on June 21, 2007

I think some cell phone service companies will allow you to decrease your plan to a nominal fee with no minutes/month. You should call and ask Cingular and see what they say.
posted by sulaine at 11:59 AM on June 21, 2007

Transfer it to a "free" incoming VOIP carrier like GalaxyVoice, and pay ~$2/mo. in "taxes."
posted by thejoshu at 12:08 PM on June 21, 2007

About three years ago I went to London for a few months and didn't want to continue paying full price for my phone but I love my phone number (it is a math problem that results in zero!) and Cingular (at the time) offered a "carrying fee" which was (I believe) $9.95/month to maintain my number and offer something like 25 minutes/month. It also maintained my voicemail, which I had forwarded to my Virgin Mobile Phone while in London. I used the physical forwarding function on my phone to have it ring to my London phone that I had a message and I would call the Cingular service center and they would allow me to connect to my voicemail. I'm not sure if the latter portion of it is still applicable or even possible, but I would call Cingular and ask. They've always been more than accommodating to me.
posted by banannafish at 12:19 PM on June 21, 2007

I'm with a canadian carrier, but I went to HK for a year -- when I called up and asked them to do what you asked they said it would cost me $10/month. Then I said something to the effect of "oh, i'd just like to cancel my account then", at which point they offered me the service for free. So, that might be worth a shot.
posted by modernnomad at 12:25 PM on June 21, 2007

With Sprint and T-Mobile at least you can put your phone on "hold" or "vacation" for 90 days. That's what I do when I leave for more than a few months. Sprint is $6/month and T-Mobile is $10/month.

If I wasn't back in the U.S. every 90 days, I would ask a friend to call and turn on my phone plan for one day then reset the phone.
posted by k8t at 12:41 PM on June 21, 2007

I'd recommend aginst porting your number to a Voip carrier. Porting in is not the problem, but the hard part can be porting back out to a traditional carrier once you have switched to a voip one.

You're safer contacting your cellular carrier and asking if they offer a "vacation" service as previous posters have mentioned.
posted by reptile at 12:46 PM on June 21, 2007

FWIW, Cinguat&t said they can reserve an inactive number for two weeks.
posted by cmiller at 1:03 PM on June 21, 2007

I park my number with Vonage and have it forward to whatever number I happen to use, makes my life easier as I can abandon cellular carriers/etc the second they give me problems. I do this when work is willing to spring for a cell but I don't want to have to carry around two, just forward on via vonage to the work cell.

And if they day comes when I have vonage present problems I'll move it to another voip provider with similar features.
posted by iamabot at 1:14 PM on June 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

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