Jump to content
Chapala.com Webboard

Porting US cell number


timjwilson
 Share

Recommended Posts

I've received several emails requesting info on how to set up fongo and textnow. I'll post something more detailed here in the next few days. For now: do not cancel your existing landline or cell phone service if you want to keep the phone number! You need to port the number before cancelling the existing service, or else you will lose it.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

How to keep your existing Canadian or US landline or cell phone number and keep using it in Mexico and beyond.

Before you do anything: Do not cancel your existing service yet! You need to port your phone number first, or else lose it. Porting a number should automatically void the service you are porting from, but be sure to call them to verify. In our case it was automatic, and nothing else was required.

You will need one, or both (we use both) of these apps: Fongo and TextNow. We use android phones and tablets, and I cannot help you with apple devices. I imageine the process is similar.

Both fongo and textnow work as phone-replacement apps, offering unlimited domestic calls and texts. The difference between the two is:

Fongo is for Canadian customers. Textnow is for Canadian and US customers. Both offer a free phone number to get you started immediately. Both offer port-in (transfer of existing phone numbers from other providers, including landlines). Fongo makes the process very easy, Textnow is (now) more cumbersome than ever before (but still possible / who knows how long?)

Both services support themselves by displaying small ads on the screen (these can be removed for a small fee). Textnow is more aggressive in prompting users to upgrade to paid services.

We prefer fongo, which has a nicer, cleaner app (ads are very discreet and hardly noticeable.) TextNow app seems more cluttered, and ads are more visible and frequent. Again, you can pay a one-time fee to remove them, although we didn't because we hardly use textnow anyway. If we used textnow more, and relied on it more, we would probably pay for the ad-free version.

You may or may not need to use a quality vpn service to sign up for fongo and textnow service if you initiate the process from Mexico, or elsewhere in the world. Do not use free vpns as these are easily blocked. Try what we use, and set a server location according to your needs (you may need to do this before downloading / setting up an account with fongo and textnow). Here's a vpn you can use for free for 30 days: https://surfshark.club/friend/qXpbZntj

Lets start with fongo.

Begin by downloading and installing the free app:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fongo.dellvoice

Once installed you will be offered a free Canadian phone number. Pick an area code and a number from several options (keep looking if you don't like the first batch). Set up the account. You must provide a 911 address. This is a regulatory requirement. You do not need to show any ID, just fill out the form. The whole thing takes few minutes. That's it. Your're good to go. You can now call any phone number, including 1-800 numbers, and 911.

I suggesting trying out the service before proceeding to port. It took us about a month to decide to port and we are glad we did. We ported a second number, and convinced family members and friends to use fongo, and far as i know they all like it. This may be a good place to mention that we do not work for fongo or textnow, and receive no kickbacks from them.

If you decide no to port in but want to keep the free number anyway: The free numbers on fongo and textnow must be used at least once a month or they will be recycled, and assigned to other customers. Ported numbers will be yours to keep.

Tested and liked fongo? Follow the instructions to port a number (from a landline or cellphone):

https://www.fongo.com/blog/how-to-transfer-your-existing-phone-number-to-fongo/

What to expect: Porting process takes anywhere from 2 to 9 days (it was closer to 9 for us). There is a regulatory one-time fee of CAD $25. Once it's done you will receive a notification. Follow the simple instructions. You will now have your ported number as the account number on fongo, and you own it. Meaning you can port it out of fongo if you ever want to (perhaps back to a cell phone provider), and it won't be recycled if you do not use the service.

You can call any Canadian number for free (I believe some Nunavut locations are unreachable still) using a wifi connection or a cellular data plan. You can receive calls from anywhere, as you would on any phone. You can call 1-800 numbers, receive verification codes, short-codes, and and any phone number in the world. Check worldwide calling rates:

https://account.fongo.com/calling/long-distance/

To text on fongo: you can text any fongo-to-fongo number for free, but to text cell phones (any cellphones outside fongo) you need to buy an unlimited texting package. I believe we pay about $1/month for texting Canadian numbers, or you can buy the worldwide texting package, which goes for about $2/month unlimited. Wherever you are in the world your calls to Canada are considered domestic, and you will not be charged roaming or long distance rates. Remember: You will need a data connection to use the service: wifi, or a cellular data plan (we use amigo sin limites from telcel).

Now, for textnow.

Textnow is similar to fongo. Sadly, Textnow has made some unfortunate changes since we ported in 2015. Initially the process of porting was as easy as fongo's. There was a small set up cost back then, but I cannot remember what for / how much. That said we never paid a penny since, and continue to use the service without any hiccups. These days you have to go through some additional steps and set up costs.

Set up procedures are similar to fongo (see above): Download app, sign up for a free phone number (US or Canadian), and test the features before porting: Unlimited calling and texting to and from any Canadian and US phones (and certain Mexican numbers too), including 1-800 numbers.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.enflick.android.TextNow

When you decide to port an existing number, you will have to:

1 - Sign up for the $10/month ad-free textnow premium plan (they no longer allow porting into free accounts), plus $4.99 activation fee (a sim card that you now need to pop into a cell phone, which is a one-time operation to register your device / account, and you can ditch it after).
2 - Apply to port your existing landline or cellphone number.
3 - After porting is done: downgrade textnow service to the $6/year lock-in phone number plan, or to ad-free lite plan @ $3/month. Meaning your initial investment will be about $15 plus porting fee, if any (I cannot remember paying anything at all), and $6/year thereafter (or the $3/month ad-free fee). Please see the website for current rates.
4 - Done.

Similarly to fongo, you can use textnow anywhere in the world to call / receive calls as if you were in the US or Canada, including 1-800 numbers (meaning: no roaming and no long distance fees, except to call out international destinations) using wifi or cellular networks (such as the telcel amigo sin limite plan).

International textnow calling rates vary: https://www.textnow.com/international-calling

There is a live online chat support for fongo and textnow on their websites if you need further guidance.

A personal note: seeing as textnow is making the porting process more complicated, I would suggest porting sooner rather than later, before they make it more difficult, or remove the option altogether.

I think this about covers it. Enjoy.

  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the info. Does Textnow provide a VoIP number or a regular cell phone number? My U.S. bank won't send 2-factor authentication text messages to VoIP numbers anymore. You mentioned Textnow charges a "$4.99 activation fee (a sim card that you now need to pop into a cell phone, which is a one-time operation to register your device / account, and you can ditch it after)." So appears they may provide a regular cell# with the SIM, but unsure how it works after you ditch the SIM?? Does it convert to VoIP or can a regular cell# work without the SIM card?

Fongo appears to be VoIP.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did a quick search and found this:

 Does TextNow Support Verification Codes?
https://help.textnow.com/hc/en-us/articles/1500002893921-Does-TextNow-Support-Verification-Codes-
Some services do not support TextNow numbers for verification or for setting up 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication). If you're having trouble receiving a receive verification code (or short codes) please reach out to that company's support and verify if they support TextNow.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 minutes ago, InChapala1 said:

Thanks for the info. Does Textnow provide a VoIP number or a regular cell phone number? My U.S. bank won't send 2-factor authentication text messages to VoIP numbers anymore. You mentioned Textnow charges a "$4.99 activation fee (a sim card that you now need to pop into a cell phone, which is a one-time operation to register your device / account, and you can ditch it after)." So appears they may provide a regular cell# with the SIM, but unsure how it works after you ditch the SIM?? Does it convert to VoIP or can a regular cell# work without the SIM card?

Fongo appears to be VoIP.

They are both voip services, and if you opt to sign up for the free numbers only they won't work with certain 2FA. However, ported numbers and paid subscription elevate your service to a new level that works for verification purposes. I can verify that our ported fongo numbers work with our banks and all other 2FA services we ever used; we do not use textnow for banking (so I cannot tell whether banks accept it), but I can confirm our ported textnow number works with 2FA services that we use it with.

We do not use and never did use a textnow sim card, it was not a requirement when we signed up (and probably did not exist then at all), and we still do not need it. From what I hear a sim card is now only required to activate the service, and / or to use cellular networks when you're in the US (if you buy the network package). Otherwise it is not necessary to use textnow sim card, as mentioned somewhere in the support pages, and on various customer forums. As I said, textnow makes it now quite complicated to port, but it is possible still. Pls use the online support chat if in doubt.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

39 minutes ago, RickS said:

Sometimes this forum is better than having Google. 

MakeItSo has proven that point for us lately!  Thanks.

 

I've greatly benefited from advice found on this forum over the years, and finally signed up to contribute. So, thank you Everybody!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, InChapala1 said:

I did a quick search and found this:

 Does TextNow Support Verification Codes?
https://help.textnow.com/hc/en-us/articles/1500002893921-Does-TextNow-Support-Verification-Codes-
Some services do not support TextNow numbers for verification or for setting up 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication). If you're having trouble receiving a receive verification code (or short codes) please reach out to that company's support and verify if they support TextNow.

You may want to ask about your specific bank on reddit textnow forum, but be sure to say you will have a ported number (not a free number). Here's something I found on reddit regarding textnow 2FA from banking (see the attached pic)

TextNow 2FA.jpg

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/29/2021 at 4:22 PM, MakeItSo said:

You may want to ask about your specific bank on reddit textnow forum, but be sure to say you will have a ported number (not a free number). Here's something I found on reddit regarding textnow 2FA from banking (see the attached pic)

TextNow 2FA.jpg

A sad update from TextNow support chat;

 okay, so if you  want to port-in your number you need a TextNow Sim card, and the TextNow Sim card only be available and work within USA only, not outside of the USA.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 hours ago, timjwilson said:

A sad update from TextNow support chat;

 okay, so if you  want to port-in your number you need a TextNow Sim card, and the TextNow Sim card only be available and work within USA only, not outside of the USA.

Then I am glad we ported when we did. That said I'd be surprised if there aren't similar / alternative services, however our only experience is with fongo and textnow, both of which serve us well. Also, something isn't quite right about the support answer, since we use textnow outside the US exclusively. I suspect the company is eager to sell data plans now, hence the push for sim cards (which rely on a US network operator). You may want to ask on user forums, such as reddit, quora, etc.

or explore alternatives:

https://www.geckoandfly.com/23281/virtual-phone-number-ios-android-smartphones/

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, Whipstock said:

MakeItSo,

Once you have ported a number, can you then use the non sim number for Whattsapp? Or would you need the do that before porting?

TIA

 

When you sign up for a free number from these apps it will be a voip number, with certain limitations (limited or no support for F2A or shortcode messaging). I used free numbers in the past to sign up for certain social media accounts, including twitter, and they worked, but they failed us with some other services.

Porting is a different story. When you port a number you remain its owner, and it will be considered whatever it was ported from. For instance my cell phone number ported to textnow validates as a cell phone number (as opposed to a voip number), and my landline and cell phone ported to fongo continue to check out as landline and cell phone after all these years, and accept F2A and the usual services available to cell phones (not one of these numbers requires a sim card, we never encountered any shortcomings, including from financial institutions and a crypto exchange). But, we haven't used any of our ported numbers with whatsapp, because we already signed up for whatsapp accounts with our telcel numbers, therefore I cannot answer your question. Perhaps somebody else can verify.

You can validate what type of phone you have or what phone is calling you here: https://www.phonevalidator.com/

 

  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...