Vonage Porting Hell

I’ve been a Vonage customer for many years. The pricing and call quality were good even though the customer service wasn’t. Recently I decided to run my own VOIP system. Though it is complicated to setup, you can get a lot a great features. For instance, I added a feature where I can press a key during a call and the caller will be automatically added to a blacklist. Next time they call they get a busy signal and my phone never rings.

For my VOIP server I experimented with Asterisk and FreePBX. FreePBX’s comparatively easy setup and web UI made it a good choice to start with. After a while I wanted to edit the config files by hand. Once you start down this path the web UI becomes a hindrance rather than a help. Zentyal has exactly the same problem but that is another story. Anyway, I changed to FreeSwitch and have had good luck with it.

I also had to choose a SIP trunking provider. This provider essentially becomes your telephone company. After reading a lot of reviews I choose voip.ms. Their pricing was good (about 1.05 cents per minute for domestic calls) and their reputation on the forums seemed good as well. My experience with them over the past couple of months hasn’t made me regret this decision. It was easy to configure FreeSwitch to work with voip.ms. I will share my config in another post.

It then came time to port a number from Vonage to voip.ms. To put it mildly, Vonage really doesn’t make this an easy process. I filled out the paperwork on the voip.ms site and then waited. Port request rejected due to bad address! Great. I checked and the address looked fine to me. So I called Vonage customer service. They have no option in their menu for this so I tried “tech support”. They tell me to try a previous address but no luck, port request rejected again!

I call Vonage back and this time they tell me I have to email them for help. I do and get no response. After two weeks of back and forth with Vonage and voip.ms I eventually learn:

  1. The porting is handled by a mysterious entity the telephone people call an “upstream CLEC” who no-one can contact but is actually doing the work.
  2. You have to use the Vonage corporate address for the port request. Ummm…OK. This address is Vonage, 23 Main St., Holmdel, NJ 07733
  3. Once the port is confirmed. You have to contact Vonage so they can erase your number from their switches. Your phone won’t work until they do this.
  4. This will take a lot of time and you will lose your phone service during the transition.

Once I gave voip.ms the correct address it took 2 weeks for the port to complete at which point they gave me an “FOC Date”. Have your cell phone ready on that day because your phone will go down and it will take a while to come back up. Mine went down around noon on FOC day and is still not working 24 hours later. Vonage closed the account quickly but the calls still don’t go to voip.ms. At least I don’t think they do.

I can see from my firewall logs that they are aren’t going to me. Where is the actual problem? I have no idea and no way to check. I wish it were like running traceroute on an IP network. VOIP is weird like that; it is an odd mixture of legacy telephony and modern IT.

So that has been my experience. I will update this when I finally get my “DID” (i.e. phone number) working again.

Update: After 4 days my phone is finally working again. My guess is that Vonage did not complete the port on Friday (the FOC date) and didn’t do anything with it over the weekend or Veteran’s day holiday.

Categories: VOIP


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