Step 1: Check your eligibility
Although all phones are technically available for porting, you should check your eligibility for porting before you get started. Since I was going to AT&T (at least in the early stages of this process), I used this form on the AT&T site to check if there would be a problem.
My land line was eligible. I'm not sure exactly what makes a phone "eligible" or what you'd do if it isn't, but if this form says you're golden, you probably are.
If you follow this step-by-step guide, you'll also be transferring your number to AT&T (again, as a short part of the process), so you should check your eligibility.
Step 2: Get an AT&T GoPhone
Both Denise and I have iPhones and we're both kind of partial to the numbers that belong to those phones. If we'd ported our land line numbers to our iPhones, we would have lost the numbers originally assigned to the iPhone.
So, your next step is to get a new cell phone. The challenge is you're not going to want to spend much, or sign up for a plan (or the associated two-year commitment).
The trick is to use an AT&T GoPhone, which is a prepaid cell phone you can buy from AT&T. We bought ours at Wal-Mart for $10 each.
Step 3: Get a new Google account for your Google Voice service
I don't use Gmail as my primary mail account. Instead, I use Microsoft Outlook and Exchange. Even so, I have a Gmail account and it contains personal information I'd prefer didn't fall into the hands of strangers.
Later in this series, I'll show you how you can connect Google Voice to a very cheap, home VoIP system. Doing this requires giving your Google Voice account and password to the VoIP provider, so they can capture incoming calls and pass them along to you.
Because the provider needs your login and password (they essentially become a Google Chat client), I didn't want to give them my main Google account credentials.
Therefore, I strongly recommend you do what I did. Set up a new Google Voice account with a completely new login and password. You'll need this in a few steps.
Step 4: Buy the minimum number of GoPhone minutes
We found that the AT&T porting representatives wouldn't perform a port until we had some minutes attached to our GoPhone. You can go into your GoPhone account online and purchase $15 worth of minutes.
Be aware that these minutes expire pretty quickly (like in a month). In fact, if you port your number to the GoPhone and then let the minutes expire without re-charging them, you might lose your hard-won number. So, I'd recommend that once you start this process, finish it as soon as you can.
Next: Steps 5 to 10