Changing companies at the end of a contract?

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http://forums.androidcentral.com – Hello, I'm new to contact phones, and I'm coming up on the end of my first two year contract. I'm looking into changing to a new company, but I'm wondering what is the standard process for doing this? I'd like to port my number at the end of my contract, but at the same time I don't want to deal with an ETF. Do I wait until the end of my contract and then request to port? Or will I lose my number doing this? Or is there some kind of window that I should be requesting my port in before the end of the 24 month contract? If it matters, I'm looking to move from T-Mobile to Verizon. From word (HowTos)