This isn't Joyce, this is her son, Karl. I just moved her from a Cincinnati Bell / i-wireless prepaid phone over to ting, and I wanted to leave this note in case anyone else is planning on doing the same move in the future.
(FYI, yes, Cincinnati Bell sometimes refers to their prepaid wireless phone service as "i-wireless". The web site is http://www.iontheweb.com/, and it is not related to the iWireless T-Mobile MVNO.)
First, as ting's porting FAQ page notes, your phone number is not your account number! Especially if you are using a prepaid phone (which means you don't get a monthly bill), it's highly likely that you've never seen your account number, but it does exist.
Next, contrary to what you might be told, you can—and need to—set a PIN on your account! To be clear, I am not talking about the PIN that appears on the back of the cards you can buy to load more money onto your phone. This PIN is not used when you call customer service, and it is not used to log in to the i-wireless web site. This PIN will just be used for the porting process. It's highly likely that i-wireless customer service will tell you that you don't need or have a PIN, and that is normally correct, but porting your number is not a normal activity!
Finally, and this part is pretty annoying, you need to set a PIN the day before you start the porting process. This was according to one i-wireless rep, saying that it takes up to 24 hours for the PIN change to take effect.
With all that, here is the process to follow to get the information you'll need. Remember, do this the day before you start the porting process:
- Gather the information you need to authenticate yourself to i-wireless customer support. You'll need the name attached to the phone, the 10-digit phone number, and the date of birth of the person's phone. Also, make sure that you have your existing mobile phone on hand.
- Call Cincinnati Bell wireless services support at (513) 565-3911. When asked for the phone number that you are calling about, provide the 10-digit phone number, and follow the prompts "for more options" or "to speak to a customer service agent". If I remember correctly, it was menu option 4 followed by menu option 6. You will be prompted to the date of birth before you are transferred to customer service. For reference, I found this phone number by going to http://www.cincinnatibell.com/customer_support/contact_us/by_phone/ and looking in the Repair Section, under Business, and then Wireless Services.
- When you are connected to customer service, be honest, and then make your request. Say that you are planning on porting this phone number, and that you need the account number. The account number for me was five zeroes followed by a nine-digit number. If you get a similar account number, then you can forget about the five zeroes at the beginning; ting just needs the nine digits.
- Once you have the account number, ask to set a PIN. If you are told that a PIN is not needed for porting, then say that you would like to set a PIN anyway. If you are asked "what do you mean by PIN", tell them that you "would like a callback on my mobile phone, so that I can set a PIN, which is 4 to 10 numbers long, that will be used when porting my number". The customer service agent should tell you to expect a callback on the mobile phone. Acknowledge the instructions, and then end the call.
- Shortly after ending the call (within a minute or two), a call will come in to your existing mobile phone. Answer it, and follow the instructions.
- Wait 24 hours, and then go to the ting site to begin the porting process.
At this point, you should now have the phone number, account number, and PIN. If you are unsure about the exact name and address to enter for porting, you should check both the iontheweb.com site, as well as the my.cincinnatibell.com site. Both sites use the same login details (mobile number and password), but once of those two sites will show you the exact name and address on the account.
One note about the callback described in step 4: Although it is annoying, the callback serves a useful security purpose. I was setting up my mom's new phone with her permission, but the only real information needed to talk to customer service was the name, mobile number, and date of birth. Having the automated system call out to the mobile device is a critical security step that can not, and should not, be bypassed. Of course, it can be annoying (especially if you're trying to set things up early), but it's a worthwhile tradeoff.
Anyway, that's it! Many thanks to Yassmen for helping out on the porting troubles over the last few days (in ticket #232403). Remember, this was a personal (not business) pre-paid Cincinnati Bell mobile phone number that was ported, so your experiences may vary if you have a plan-based mobile phone, or a phone on a business account. Good luck!