How to port 'ineligible' mobile numbers to AT&T and iPhone

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Some iPhone customers trying to port their mobile numbers from carriers such as Verizon are being told by the iTunes software and AT&T customer service reps that their current mobile number 'cannot be transfered,' is 'ineligible' for a port, or 'isn't being released' from its existing carrier. Fortunately, we've figured out a workaround to this issue.



Attempting to port my Verizon phone number to AT&T on Friday, I was given all three of these excuses and then some. At one point, I sincerely believed that I would be unable to keep the same mobile number I've had for 8 years if I wanted to move to AT&T. But after three hours, a massive headache, and several calls to both Verizon and AT&T customer support, I was able to both activate my iPhone and port my number in under 20 minutes.



The problem arises -- at least in my case -- when your current mailing or usage address (specifically the zip code you enter into iTunes as part of your current address) no longer matches the region associated with your existing mobile phone number's area code. Customers experiencing this problem likely have moved out of the region where they first activated their non-AT&T account and phone number.



For example: say you lived in Cupertino three years ago when you opened an account with Verizon, but have since relocated and now live in Los Angeles. Since your mobile phone number's area code ("408" in Cupertino) is now outside the region where you live (Los Angeles), AT&T's stubborn porting system software will decline to transfer your number -- it's hardcoded into their system that numbers cannot be ported out of region, even if both regions exist within the same state. This restriction appears to follow guidelines prescribed by FCC, but I never had a problem porting my out-of-area number between other carriers over the years. Verizon was happy to port my out-of-area number from Sprint a couple years back. With AT&T and iPhone, iTunes will tell you the number 'cannot' be transfered. AT&T service reps will tell you that your existing carrier 'won't release' your number to them, and when your initial activation fails, you'll receive an e-mail explaining that your existing mobile number is 'ineligible' to be ported.



For people caught in this never ending loop of B.S., try what I did. Once your activation fails, start the activation process over again in iTunes. On the first iTunes activation screen, it asks if you want to transfer your existing mobile number information. Select the check box, then type in your current mobile number and account number. Where it asks for "Billing Zip Code," use your old billing zip code or a zip code that coincides with your existing mobile number even if you no longer live in that zip code. Enter in a password if you have one -- or skip the password field if you don't -- and the click "Continue."







You'll then be asked on the next three screens to pick your plan, enter your iTunes account info, and confirm your birthday. Enter all the information as you did before. The next screen "Billing information" is where you want to focus. On that screen, enter your name, social security number, and your current billing information and home telephone. When you get to the point where it says "Address where you will primarily use this iPhone:," instead of selecting "Same as billing," select "Other." Now enter in a false address that matches up with your existing mobile phone number's area code. I used my old address.







For example: If your mobile phone number has a '408' Cupertino area code, but you now live in Los Angeles, tell iTunes you'll be using your phone in Cupertino by inputting a Cupertino usage address and zip code. (Effectively, you're just telling AT&T that you plan to use your iPhone in the same region in which you first received your wireless number). Click continue, and you should be well on your way. After I took these steps, my phone was activated within minutes and my 'ineligible' mobile phone number that previously 'could not be released from Verizon' was magically ported, completely, in about 20 minutes.



Once your iPhone is activated and your number properly ported, you can call AT&T or use AT&T's website to update the usage address you entered via iTunes. Alternatively, you could do nothing and let some poor sap at that random address deal with all the snail-mail spam AT&T may send. Important material, such as your statement and bill, will be sent to the valid billing address you provided.



AT&T service reps are clueless about this quirky loophole and are not very helpful. Instead they leave you feeling helpless, not providing a clear explanation of how to port your out-of-area number and leaving you to believe it is not possible. But it is. I hope this little work-around I discovered helps some folks out. There's nothing more frustrating than being stuck with a $600 paperweight for hours on end while AT&T tells you that they cannot get a release on your existing number from your current provider, and hence cannot activate your iPhone.
«13

Comments

  • backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    Strong work.



    Still think I'll wait a couple of weeks before getting one. I let these activation issues get resolved.
  • theapplegeniustheapplegenius Posts: 584member
    What a well written, concise article.
  • digitalclipsdigitalclips Posts: 15,405member
    Thanks for the good info.
  • chevaliermalfetchevaliermalfet Posts: 470member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by backtomac View Post


    Strong work.



    Still think I'll wait a couple of weeks before getting one. I let these activation issues get resolved.



    I wouldn't hold my breath. This kind of organizational/systems issue has likely been a problem since AT&T/Cingular implemented phone number transfer, and I doubt AT&T will step up to fix it in the reasonable future.
  • jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,933member
    I guess this would affect me as I specifically got a number for an area code starting 5 miles north of me, so that certain people would be local calls regardless of carrier. I didn't move, it's just that the big city is there.
  • backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    One can hope without holding their breath can't they?
  • chevaliermalfetchevaliermalfet Posts: 470member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by backtomac View Post


    One can hope without holding their breath can't they?



    Certainly, and maybe Apple will exert some pressure on them to fix the matter, but my experience with the industry in general and Cingular/AT&T specifically doesn't support much in the way of optimism.
  • abster2coreabster2core Posts: 2,497member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Some iPhone customers trying to port their mobile numbers from carriers such as Verizon are being told by the iTunes software and AT&T customer service reps that their current mobile number 'cannot be transfered,' is 'ineligible' for a port, or 'isn't being released' from its existing carrier. Fortunately, we've figured out a workaround to this nonsense.



    Great find. But why the condescending attitude. If this were a perfect world, a lot of us wouldn't be here. Including you.
  • expatinasiaexpatinasia Posts: 2member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Abster2core View Post


    Great find. But why the condescending attitude. If this were a perfect world, a lot of us wouldn't be here. Including you.



    The article was clear, cocise, and valuable. There's nothing condescending about the post, and all of us are wondering about your attitude. Perhaps mommy should have spanked you more.
  • forbesforbes Posts: 1member
    This is slightly outside my area of expertise, but I believe there's an industry-wide issue here rather than something specific to AT&T/Cingular -- carriers are not required to port numbers outside of the local geographic area (see http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/NumberPortabi...come.html#FAQS), and there are technical and taxation issues that prevent it from being feasible (as in, some of those squirrely little taxes at the bottom of your cell phone bill become nigh impossible to calculate, and it becomes difficult to administer the pool of available cell phone numbers in any given region).



    Along the same lines, I suspect AT&T would get into hot water with state and local tax collectors if they advised you to do what's suggested in your post -- your workaround works as advertised, and for the city of Los Angeles it's not worth the time and effort to track you down and make you pay the local taxes on your cell phone service, but if AT&T were advising people to do this, I suspect several states and cities (if not the FCC) would have something unpleasant to say about it.
  • moukkismoukkis Posts: 17member
    HA !



    in (good) old Europe we dont have any of these issues ! Do you know why ?



    Because the device isn't on sale!! !!



    No iPhone. No Worries...
  • ptrashptrash Posts: 296member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Moukkis View Post


    HA !



    in (good) old Europe we dont have any of these issues ! Do you know why ?



    Because the device isn't on sale!! !!



    No iPhone. No Worries...



    Is the reason they're not on sale because the European cell system is much more open than the plan-based US system, meaning Apple won't have the same level of control over it's new baby?
  • eaieai Posts: 417member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ptrash View Post


    Is the reason they're not on sale because the European cell system is much more open than the plan-based US system, meaning Apple won't have the same level of control over it's new baby?



    I think they want to get it right before they launch in Europe. Despite what the EU thinks, Europe is not a single country - each country has their own currency (in some cases) and different carriers, so to roll the iPhone out across Europe would require a lot of negotiations with all the different carriers...



    Equally some countries like Italy have virtually no market at all for contract-based phones, everyone uses Pay as You Talk...



    Plus, I think 3G might be a required bargaining chip to get the carriers to accept the tall demands that Apple place on them. Many of them have invested an absolute fortune (tens of billions) in their 3G networks which are pretty under-used.



    I think if Apple do try to release the iPhone in the UK at the same price in pounds as it is in dollars it could be a major issue for them. The exchange rate is currently almost 0.5, they treat it as if its 0.8...



    Well, we'll see!
  • jack6294jack6294 Posts: 3member
    The activation problem must have been an overload on some system. I bought a 4 GB iPhone for my 16 year old daughter friday waiting under 1 hour in line in a small southern town. Brought it home and hooked it up to activate it. Hours went by and nothing. Went to bed, woke up at 1:45am central time and the iPhone was activated. It took me longer to set up her e-mail because she had changed her password and I could find her to ask.



    Lovin' every minute of it!!
  • min_tmin_t Posts: 74member
    Damn, I shouldve waited a day.

    Oh well, new number & me iphone is working like a charm.
  • nate.willardnate.willard Posts: 7member
    Do you think Apple will have any damage control around all the AT&T issues?



    People are lining up against AT&T: http://www.nobosh.com/Article/Apple-...%27s-Turn/669/
  • abster2coreabster2core Posts: 2,497member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by expatinasia View Post


    The article was clear, cocise, and valuable. There's nothing condescending about the post, and all of us are wondering about your attitude. Perhaps mommy should have spanked you more.



    Well unfortunately, I should have included the entire article in my retort. Because is has been revised! For example. the last line in the first paragraph originally stated, "Fortunately, we've figured out a workaround to this nonsense" and not as it is now, i.e., " Fortunately, we've figured out a workaround to this issue."



    Obviously the author took my cue and changed it. More like what is should have been right from the start.



    Note that I applauded the author for his endeavor. As a developer, we try to think of everything that could potentially create 'issues.' We appreciate when our clients make us aware of a problem. Certainly, considering the lengths that Apple has gone to ease the activation process, the finding by Kaspar was one that they couldn't even imagine. Who would of thought? Well, not Apple, not AT&T, nor you or I. Just one person so far.
  • mattcarpmattcarp Posts: 1member
    I've had much the same problem, activating my iPhone via iTunes and being told that my existing T-Mobile number was not eligible to be ported. The explanation given was that the number I'd entered was likely a landline. It was not; it was a mobile number that I've had for 7 years and moved between carriers before. In my eagerness to activate the phone I opted for a new number, thinking that I could later port my old number to the new AT&T account, replacing the number I was given last night. Having first called the AT&T general support line for the iPhone and been told the hold time was one hour and fifteen minutes, I walked down to my local AT&T-owned corporate store (on Wall Street in New York), where I was given another phone number to call (the store employees were exasperated at the lack of help they'd been given to deal with the issue). I spent thirty five minutes with this "porting" group at AT&T (the number is 888-898-7685), and was eventually told that I needed to call another group which dealt with the iPhone, whose number was 877-800-3701. The representative with that group asked for an "activation ID" which was meant to have been sent to me via email. I quickly read for her the 5 or 6 emails I'd gotten from AT&T and Apple after activating the phone, none of which included that code. I told her that I was calling her from an AT&T Wireless phone number which I'd activated and paid for the night before, and despite her best efforts (this was not her fault) she had no record of me as an AT&T customer. Yet I was calling her on a number that I'd gotten from AT&T and for which I had already started paying the company (giving the phone number, account number, and my social security number failed to produce my name as a customer).



    I envy the original poster's foresight in not having accepted an AT&T-assigned number and insisting on waiting for his existing number to be ported. Also, no small feat in figuring that that the rejection of the pre-existing ported number was due to changes in zip codes - kudos there.



    Thus far the issue isn't resolved. My old phone is no longer active, the number isn't ported, and I can't be reached by anyone who's had my old number for the past 7 years (including my invalid mother who's not prone to adding new numbers to speed dial).



    I might add that I lined up for an iPhone at that same Wall Street AT&T store at 12 noon on Friday. There were 60 phones and more than 250 people on the line (there were 64 people in front of me and several of us walked back and counted 190 or so behind our group). The 200 people (or so) behind me who'd taken the day off work and had been told nothing by the AT&T reps about stock levels were out of luck. I then hopped the subway and went to the Apple-owned store in SoHo and waited all of about 8 minutes - got an 8 gig phone. Shortly after that I returned, via telephone and in-person visits, to the small hell that is dealing with AT&T. I love the hardware and the software of the iPhone and I'm a long term fan of Apple. And I think the customer-facing people who work at AT&T are doing their level best. But the marriage of Apple with AT&T, in terms of aesthetics and a general grace, hasn't been rivaled since Stephanie Seymour wedded Axl Rose.
  • matthewgmatthewg Posts: 1member
    I had similar issues porting from Verizon. I think the number was moved from its original region too. I called AT&T a few times, and after a few hours, they started saying that everything was fine according to their system, the number was showing as having been ported successfully. Right around then I got an email from AT&T saying that the attempt to port had failed. After receiving that email, I went into the iTunes activation screen and told it that I was an existing AT&T customer who wanted to replace the service on their account, giving it the Verizon phone number and the billing address I'd set up when I initiated the port. The activation went through and the iPhone works great!



    It's frustrating that I've had to deal with AT&T customer service as much as I did (I also had some issues with my other number), but they've been very helpful and patient and they do get things working eventually.
  • rwramseyrwramsey Posts: 1member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by min_t View Post


    Damn, I shouldve waited a day.

    Oh well, new number & me iphone is working like a charm.



    Me too. Could not port numbers to two new iPhones. AT&T issued new numbers. Guess I will visit the AT&T store to complete the port. On the up side, the iPhones are working great!!!!
Sign In or Register to comment.