Do you find yourself in a position where your calls are coming in for the business, but they’re being sent to the wrong place? What do you do in that scenario? Well, the first problem might be that people are dialing the wrong number, but chances are, you’ve already got the phone number straightened out.
When people are calling your main business line, but you want those calls to be sent to somewhere else, what you’ll do is to have those calls forwarded to another number, or another phone. That’s call forwarding. When you want your business phone number moved to somewhere else, entirely—that’s called porting.
This is what we’re going to explain in this article. Once you understand what the words, “forwarding” and “porting” actually mean, it’s very simple, but understanding what each of these words mean is the key and is the first step. Hence, the reason for this post.
What is Call Forwarding?
We’re all pretty familiar with call forwarding because the term has been thrown around for quite a long time now, just about as long as cellular phones have existed. There were a few years there, when mobile phones were first created, when no additional features at all could be applied to the technology, but shortly thereafter in the following decade, you could send your calls to pretty much anywhere.
It was right around the time when caller ID first entered the scene, that call forwarding became possible. Most beneficial for professionals of some sort, you could now take the calls that came into your home phone and forward them to your cell phone or work phone. So, this is the essence of call forwarding.
When you “forward” a call, you use some technology to intercept a call that comes into one phone number, and then send that call to another phone number. That’s it. The technology used for executing a forward has definitely improved to make it faster, smoother, and more versatile, but the basic function of call forwarding remains the same.
Call Forwarding with a Virtual Phone System
A forward function doesn’t change, which makes it less confusing because no matter what system with which you’re forwarding calls, you can be sure that the same essential action is taking place. The difference you encounter when using a virtual phone system is that it is far easier to forward your calls, and you can send calls to unlimited forwarding phone numbers.
Secondly, you can customize the call path and add all kinds of features to your system, such as an automated call menu, recorded greetings, hours of operation when you’re available to receive live calls, and even custom schedules that control forwarding to each of your phones at specific times.
These features are all available with a Talkroute virtual phone system, and there are also quite a few others that you’ll have access to, as needed. The point is that, when you use a virtual system, you can comprehensively control exactly the way your calls are forwarded, which of your phones receive calls and at which times, and the adjustment of those settings.
Why Would You Need to Forward Your Calls?
From the time that call forwarding was introduced, way back in the olden days at which young Millennials scoff and laugh, it was a promising feature that had various uses, not the least of which being the ability to leave your house and still get the calls that come into your landline at home.
When it first came out, it was revolutionary to be able to leave your house at any time and watch your cell phone ring at the same time that your home phone rang, as well as your work phone if you were at the office. It’s so simple and commonplace now that we barely give it a second thought when the same call simultaneously rings multiple different phones, but there was a time when that was just impossible.
Call Forwarding is Still Very Useful
So, the applications of call forwarding for someone who is running a business, even though the technology has been around for many years now, are vital tools needed to stay in touch with customers. The way that we view call forwarding now is a bit different from the way that we originally saw it.
Yes, you can use it to send calls from your home phone to a work phone, or vice versa, but when you look at it from the perspective of a business owner with multiple employees who need to receive calls for the business, call forwarding becomes the key to an entirely new phone system.
Create a PBX with Call Forwarding
With only one phone number (or more if you like) serving as your main business line, you can essentially create a virtual PBX system using the call forwarding feature. What this means is that, using nothing more than call forwarding, you can build a multi-line phone system for your business by branching off of one primary phone number, without using any additional equipment or outside service.
That basically describes what a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) system is, minus the extra equipment. Normally, you would need to have your phone carrier send in an installer to build that system on-site at your business and add all the necessary hardware. With a virtual PBX system through Talkroute, though, all you need is a virtual phone number that callers dial to reach you, and all of the phones that you want to receive calls. You can use the existing phones that you already have, as long as they have active service.
What is a Port?
The simple definition of a port is: The transfer of service for a phone number, from one service provider, or carrier, to another. The term, “port” was not previously very well-known, but as more and more phone service providers spring up, a lot more people have become familiar with the term. What you much more commonly hear from a phone customer, however, is that they are, “taking their number with them”, or, “transferring their number”, both of which are perfectly descriptive terms for a port.
In point of fact, it’s true that when you port a number, you are taking it with you—say, from AT&T to Comcast. In that example, AT&T will no longer have anything to do with the phone number after the port. It will have become a Comcast number. Another example that illustrates porting a little more clearly is when you switch cell phone carriers. If you find that Verizon is charging you too much, let’s say, you might then decide to switch to T-Mobile.
So, what happens then is that you cancel your service with Verizon and move over to T-Mobile, but at the same time, you naturally want to keep the same phone number after the switch. When you switch from one cell carrier to the other but keep your number, that’s a port. You just ported your existing phone number from Verizon to T-Mobile.
Now that you’ve got a clearer picture as to what a port is, it should be pretty easy to see how it differs from a forward. The two are honestly as separate as night and day, but for some reason, people tend to get porting and forwarding mixed up. So, just to clarify, they are each completely different operations from one another.
While call forwarding is a feature that acts on the phone number without changing anything about the number’s service, a port definitely does change the number’s service. In fact, it changes everything about a phone number’s service because it is ending service with one service provider and starting service for the same number with another provider.
To put it more bluntly, porting a phone number is more serious than forwarding a number because you’re actually messing with the number’s service when you port, but call forwarding is essentially just taking a call from one number and forcing the same call to ring on a different phone number.
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.