How to Port a Landline to a Cell

By Andrea Ruiz

Many households permanently switch from land line phones to mobile-only.
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When you first set up cell phone service, your mobile carrier may automatically assign you a new phone number by default. However, if you're making the change from a land line to a mobile phone, you don't have to lose your old phone number in the switch. The Federal Communications Commission has a federal program in place that enables users to port their old land line phone numbers to their new mobile accounts -- with a few restrictions and considerations.

Porting a Phone Number

The FCC's Wireless Local Number Portability (WLNP) program grants you the right to keep your phone number should you wish to start using another telephone service provider, as long as both numbers are in the same geographical location. For example, you can change phone service providers in the same city and keep your number, but you can't port your number to another service provider in a new city that has a area code different from that of your current number.

Transferring a Phone Number to a Wireless Account

The ability to port phone numbers from one local phone service to another includes wireless phone services. Most mobile phone carriers allow you to transfer your existing land line telephone number to your mobile phone service's account for use on your mobile phone when you set up your wireless account. You may be asked to verify ownership of the number, but typically the wireless carrier will do most of the work for you. While the transfer process may take some time depending on your carrier, in this way, you may be able to enjoy uninterrupted phone service when transferring service from a land line to a cell phone account.

Call Forwarding as a Temporary Alternative

If you only want to port your land line service temporarily, you can use call forwarding. Many land line service providers allow users to forward incoming calls to another phone number. This feature may be part of your service already, or you may have to contact your phone service provider to enable it on your account. Every service activates call forwarding in slightly different ways, but typically you must enter a code in your land line phone followed by the phone number to which you want your calls forwarded. When you no longer want your calls forwarded to your mobile phone, you can disable call forwarding using your service provider's code for that as well.

Limitations and Considerations

Some mobile carriers charge an additional one-time setup fee when setting up your service if you want to port an existing number onto your account. Call-forwarding services may also incur an additional fee when you enable them on your land line if the feature isn't already part of your phone service. Also, when you port a phone number from a land line to a cell phone, you only transfer the phone number itself, and none of its associated services. You will have to set up voice mail on your new account, and will likely no longer have access to your land line account's voice mail box.