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Number Portability: How to Port a Toll Free Number You Own, but It’s Not in Your Name?

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Toll free numbers give businesses a professional image and help boost a company’s presence. To stand out amongst competitors, many recognizable brands and businesses purchase unique and memorable vanity toll free numbers that spell out a word or phrase. So, what happens when you want to move your phone service to another provider? You established your toll free number with customers and prospects, and now you need to transfer or port that number to your new service provider.

Port Number Rights

In the U.S., the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) instituted number portability in 1993 with RespOrg (responsible organization). Basically, the end-user or owner of the phone number has the right to change providers while retaining their business-generating toll free number. A RespOrg maintains all United States toll free number registrations in the Service Management System/800 database. There are currently 350 carriers, toll free service providers, and brokers registered with RespOrg.

Issues arise when a toll free number purchased through a broker shows that broker as the “owner” of the number even though you purchased it. If the broker fails to release the number under your name, you can have issues porting that toll free number to a different provider. The typical process to port a number is a straightforward authorization to have a RespOrg act on your behalf.

However, if the broker does not release the number to you, how can you move your phone service to another provider? Fortunately, there is an alternative process to port your number.

Number Portability: How to Port Your Toll Free Number

First, let’s walk through the process assuming that the number broker releases the toll free number purchased by you under your business name. The transfer process is the same as if you directly purchased the toll free number.

Once you decide on a new toll free service provider and are ready to start the number porting processes, read over your existing contract and confirm a few important items.

  • Does your existing provider charge early cancellation fees and if so how much?
  • Is your account in good standing or do you have outstanding balances?
  • What special features are active on your toll free number, and how do you go about de-activating them?
  • Does your new provider offer the same features and are these automatically activated upon transfer?

Once you are ready to start the port number process, the next step is to get your toll free number “released” from your existing provider. To do this you merely complete a Letter of Authorization (LOA) form obtained from your new provider. This gives the new provider authorization as a “RespOrg” to act on your behalf.

When completely the form, it is essential all details are correct. Include your business information, toll free numbers, and information about your existing carrier. Once complete, return the LOA Form to your new provider with a copy of your number ownership and your latest telephone bill. Ensuring the accuracy of all information submitted speeds up the process and prevents rejection from the carrier.

The toll free number porting process can take between three to seven business days. During this time, it is important you continue service with your existing provider as disconnected numbers are not eligible for transfer. Once you receive written confirmation that the transfer is complete, you can officially cancel services with your old provider.

What to Do about a Rejected Port Number Request

The majority of toll free number transfers are smooth and hassle-free. However, there are times when carriers reject the number porting request. This generally happens due to lack of information, insufficient support documentation, incorrect number details, or outstanding payments.

In some cases, a disgruntled carrier does not want to lose business and is not cooperative with the process. There are instances in which a carrier claims that there if no recollection or record of your company, and that there is no information of your business on file.

This is an extremely confusing and frustrating situation for all involved. In almost all of these cases, the toll-free number was originally purchased through a reseller or broker. A reseller purchases toll free numbers from another Toll Free Service provider and resells the numbers to its customers.

For example, XYZ Telecom purchases a toll-free number from ABC TollNumbers and resells that number to Cheri’s ABCakes. The registered owner of the toll free number in the Service Management System/800 database is  XYZ Telecom and not Cheri’s ABCakes. As XYZ Telecom is not a registered RespOrg, they have no authorization to change the toll free number ownership. The end user, Cheri’s ABCakes is therefore left powerless and unable to port their number to another provider. But, there is a method to port Cheri’s ABCakes’ number.

Using NACS for the Number Porting Process

In cases like the example, the Number Administration Service Center (NASC) is responsible for all ported telephone number data administration. NACS assists customers with the transfer of their toll free numbers without the existing carrier's consent. Although number porting through RespOrg is free, the NASC process incurs additional cost. NASC charges a fee for each number, and your new carrier typically passes those charges to you. Talk to your new carrier about that cost before requested a NASC transfer.

AVOXI is a registered carrier and RespOrg. If you seek to port your toll free number, talk to a specialist about how to start the process.