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Call Kurtis: Why Can’t I Bring My Number To New Phone Company?

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Eight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13's consumer...
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A Sacramento teacher switched phone companies and wanted to bring her number with her. When it still wasn’t transferred after a month, she called Kurtis.

In many cases, when you switch companies, you can take your number with you. It’s called porting.

But not all numbers can be ported. Why is that?

“Why can’t I keep my number?” asks Ruth Gilley, Sacramento resident and eighth grade teacher.

Gilley says Comcast told her in November if she switched from Vonage, she could keep her phone number.

So she planned to drop Vonage VoIP service and signed up for a regular Comcast landline, only to be told a month later that it wasn’t going to work.

“They said the number I was porting was out of their service plan area. Where is that? What do you mean? I’ve been here forever,” says Ruth.

Why can’t Ruth take her number with her?

“Most of the time, we can port people’s numbers, no problem,” says Bryan Byrd, director of communications for Comcast Communications.

But Comcast says when it comes to its landline service, only certain prefixes are available in certain neighborhoods, and her former VoIP number is not available where she lives.

Comcast says it ties prefixes to neighborhoods so first responders can reach you if you call 911.

“We just won’t port it for her own safety. It may be frustrating for the customer, but we just wouldn’t want to compromise her 911 safety,” says Byrd.

It’s much easier when it comes to cell phones. A federal law in effect since 2003 says you can take any cell number with you to any other cell company.

Because of the trouble it caused Ruth, Comcast agreed to give her a credit on her TV and Internet bill. She’s now back to Vonage for her home phone service.

“Please learn from this mistake so that nobody else has to go through this again,” says Ruth.

Comcast tells us in 99.8 percent of cases, there are no problems with porting your phone number. And Vonage tells us its normal timeframe for porting is about 10 business days.

We also checked with the FCC about porting periods. They tell us a new law took effect in August 2010 requiring phone companies to port your number in one business day.

For more complex ports, it’s four business days.

But again, if it’s a case like this where your prefix isn’t available, then your number can’t be ported at all.

Vonage Statement

“The normal timeframe for porting is about 10 business days, as long as nothing interrupts the transfer. Vonage is not able to tell whether a number can be ported out — that would fall under the responsibility of the new carrier.”

“The FCC regulation for one day “simple ports” refers to cell phone to cell phone ports, not ports which are from a land line to a cell phone. The port-out process is between the two carrier companies that are doing the porting in and porting out. In accordance with the FCC regulations Vonage must legally stay out of the issue. However, we will lend a hand to our customers by requesting status and asking our carrier to escalate their orders.”

- Vonage Representative

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