After nine years with T-Mobile, it was finally time to switch to AT&T so I could get an iPhone 4s. I also wanted the hip Silicon Valley area code 408, and needed to act somewhat quickly because there was talk that it was running out. Too many friends and family had my 832 Houston area code number though, which would mean I would have to painfully text/call/email my entire contact list with my new number. This would inevitably leave a handful of people to fall through the cracks and never get my new number. Was the hipness of the Silicon Valley area code worth all the hassle and potential loss of contact to old friends? Hmm… yes, but I still lingered in the ‘wanting-an-iPhone’ state. The tipping point that led me to obtain the iPhone 4s is actually quite silly and embarrassing. While driving in a parking lot at Safeway, a gentleman hit my 8-day old car and drove off. I didn’t get the chance to jot down his license plate and he was too quick to catch. I couldn’t help but think that if I would have just had an iPhone 4s with the 8MP camera and dual-core A5 chip, I would have quickly booted up the camera and snapped a vivid picture of his license plate.

The decision was made at that point. I soon became the owner of an iPhone 4s and got myself the treasured 408 area code number. Now I faced new issues: what do I do with my old T-Mobile phone with my 832 number that was associated with me for so long? Also, should I just go ahead and mass text message my whole contact list telling them about my new phone number? What if they receive the text and just forget to update my number in their contact list? If I don’t get an acknowledgement from them, should I text message them again to make sure they got it? I mean, some of these people in my list I only talk to a few times a year. On the other hand, this would be a great time to catch up with those people I rarely talk with. “Hey Billy, whats new? Oh a new 408 number, how hip!”

The best solution was to simply port my 832 number to Google Voice and tie it to my iPhone. Basically, my 832 number would no longer be associated with T-Mobile and would be linked to my Google account. If someone called or texted my 832 number, the call/text would be forwarded (for free) by Google Voice to my iPhone. This was the best method to ensure 100% that anyone who called my 832 number would still be able to reach me. That way I could focus on only updating the people I interacted with on a weekly basis of my number change. No need to create “Hey Guys, Billy got a New Number” Facebook events.

Let me break down how to go about porting your phone number to Google Voice. First, you gotta pay $20 to Google to do it. After spending $400 on an iPhone, $20 was nothing. Also, porting your number to Google Voice will cancel your existing cell phone plan for that number. If you are not on a contract, you have no need to worry. If your contract is not up, you need to confirm with your carrier that you can avoid your Early Termination Fee by reactivating the line and getting a new number. Also, porting does not happen immediately. We live in a world of instant gratification, and I was actually hoping porting would be quick because I was running late to church. Just to clear the air, porting your phone number to Google Voice takes a full 24 hours for call forwarding to work. Google states that it may take up to 3 days for texting to also work.

Here is the timeline I went through:

Jan 28 – Told T-Mobile of my plans of porting my phone number to Google Voice. I still had 18 months left on my T-Mobile contract, and they informed me that I could avoid the Early Termination Fee by simply calling back in after the number was ported and reactivating the line with a new number. (I’m on a T-Mobile family plan, so this line will only cost $10/mon until the contract runs out)

Jan 29 9:06AM – Went to >> clicked on the gear in top right corner >> Voice Settings. Under the “Phones” tab, clicked on “change/port” >> “I want to use my mobile number”. I inputted my 832 number, followed the rest of the steps, inputted my T-Mobile account number, and paid my $20 fee to Google Voice. Then I got an email from that number porting was initiated. *Note: I already had a Google Voice account that I was using for 2+ years. The procedure is similar when setting it up with a new Google Voice account.

Jan 29 – As I mentioned earlier, there was no instant gratification. Text messaging and phone calls still fully worked on my T-Mobile phone.

Jan 30 9:06AM – T-Mobile phone received a text message: “Your myFaves Service has been removed from your account” and then the phone was no longer usable. I also received an email from that number porting was complete.

Jan 30 – Calls to 832 were being properly forwarded to my 408 iPhone. I was able to log into Google Voice and send texts from my 832 number, but I still could not receive any texts to 832. I also called T-Mobile to inform them that I ported my number which cancelled the contract. They were able to reactivate the contract and provide my SIM card with a new cell phone number.

Jan 31 12:07PM – I had been texting my 832 number periodically throughout the day to see if it would forward to 408. As of 12:07PM there was still no luck.

Jan 31 2:42PM – Text messages were working! A test text message I sent to my 832 number correctly forwarded to 408. It’s always good to overestimate the time it takes to do something so when it happens faster, customers are happier. I wasn’t expecting texting to work until Feb 1, so this was a great surprise. Life was good now.

Google Voice took the pain out of changing phone numbers, and I love having two phone numbers tied to my iPhone. There are so many other awesome features and reasons why I use it, but those can be talked about another time.