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The History of RespOrg

The existence of RespOrg, responsible organization, indirectly evolved from the 1984 breakup of AT&T.  Prior to 1984, AT&T had a monopoly on assignment and management of 800 numbers.

RespOrg is an abbreviation for Responsible Organization. Newton’s Telecom Dictionary defines RespOrg as “telecommunications providers that have responsibility for obtaining 8XX service numbers from the Service Management System and building and maintaining customer records.”

Toll Free Numbers Important to Business

History of RespOrg.

The History of RespOrg Follows the Breakup of AT&T and the Rise of Number Portability

There is no question that toll free numbers are an incredibly valuable asset to businesses.

Because of this, many businesses go to great lengths to have their toll free number widely available to their customers and potential customers.

Toll free numbers, and vanity toll free numbers (like 1-800-FLOWERS) are printed on fliers, business cards, and brochures, and posted all over the internet.  Needless to say, significant costs exist when a company chooses to change their toll free number, so many keep the same number year after year.

RespOrg Evolves from AT&T Breakup

At least indirectly, the rise of the RespOrg came about because of the 1984 court-ordered breakup of AT&T.

Before the age of 1-8XX number portability, businesses were locked into the carrier who “owned” their toll free number, regardless of rate costs or the quality of service the carrier provided.  If a business wanted to keep their toll free number, they were stuck with their carrier.  For example, MCI once owned the numbers 1-800 999 XXXX, and AT&T owned 1-800 542 XXXX.

After the AT&T breakup, the FCC required assignment of unique 800-NXX codes to individual long-distance carriers. From 1986 to 1993, toll free number users used interexchange carriers like AT&T or MCI that assigned the their 800 numbers. The assignment was based on the first six-digits (the 800-NXX code) of their full 800 number.

Full 800 number portability was in place nationwide by May 1993, in compliance with guidance from the US Federal Communications Commission rules. This portability meant that 800 number subscribers were no longer locked into service from AT&T or MCI, but instead could subscribe to service from other carriers without surrendering their 800 number. Businesses that “owned” toll free numbers would have the right to switch carriers, and retain use of their toll free number if they choose.

Canada joined into the US 800 number portability system about a year later, and, later, both US and Canada 800 numbers could be called from either country.

With this all in place, the concept of RespOrg arose. The telecommunications provider selected to manage and update information about a businesses 800 number became the responsible organization, or RespOrg. Processes for changing RespOrg were developed and are used today when businesses switch from one telecommunications provider to another.

RespOrg and Toll Free Numbers Today

Today, every toll free number is controlled by a RespOrg, which is the entity selected by the customer to manage and administer their toll free service.  There are more than 400 RespOrg companies in North America, including long distance companies and other telecommunications carriers.

The RespOrg concept, and the idea that the use of a particular toll free number belongs to a subscribing business, attracted businesses to vanity toll free numbers. These numbers, like 1-800-Flowers, help marketers attract customers and improve sales. With the possibility that a company can retain and promote these numbers, companies invested in promoting and using memorable vanity numbers. As a result, vanity toll free number use continues to grow.

RespOrg – Learn More About Porting Numbers

Free RespOrg White Paper and Free Toll Free Numbers Quote

David Wise

David Wise

Chief Executive Officer, Founder at AVOXI
David has more than 18 years of management experience in the telecommunications industry. A graduate of the Citadel, David worked as a Senior Account Executive with Intermedia Communications and later co-founded Rapid Link, a leading provider of International callback and VoIP. David then founded AVOXI in 2001with a focus on providing niche international call center markets with customized voice and data services. read more
David Wise
David Wise

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