On first thought, moving your phone numbers from provider to provider seems like a simple idea. In reality, it’s a process wrought with behind the scenes complications. To meet deadlines and customer expectations you need to align yourself with a provider who has process experts to save your team the stress and pain that comes from mismanaged port orders.
While becoming a porting expert isn’t something you likely have time for, we wanted to give you the tools to quickly understand the reasons that port orders get delayed, and what your team can do about it.
The first thing to know is that the FCC really is on your side in this game. The FCC recognizes that “Delays in number porting cost consumers money and impede their ability to choose providers based solely on price, quality, and service.” Portability was introduced in the first place to even the playing field and give consumers the ability to choose the best provider for their needs. Unfortunately, there are parts of the well-intentioned process that aren’t always perfect.
Here’s what you need to know
To understand how porting works, and what the process entails, you first need to understand the system porting was invented to work with.
Why numbers move
The FCC set phone numbers free upon the breakup of AT&T. As keeping your number is a powerful motivation, it would be near impossible for new phone companies to grow if they could only sell service to people getting a phone for the first time, or those willing to go through the headache of changing the phone number they’ve had for decades.
How numbers move
The Number Portability Administration Center (NPAC) developed Local Number Portability (LNP) through the creation of an additional numbering system, Location Routing Numbers (LRN), a unique 10-digit telephone number assigned to a switch (there can be multiple LRNs on the same switch). As NPAC describes the invention of the LRN system, “It allowed the existing routing paradigm to remain in place, permitting a gradual conversion of the network to handle LNP traffic.” So now the switch that serviced a number originally can be much more helpful and point a call toward the new host switch.
What’s the process
The process involves eight steps that are seemingly straightforward. However, with each step is there is the potential for a snag. I talked to the Flowroute Number Porting team (yes, we have a Number Porting Team) to find out where ports are typically held up. Even though much of the process is automated, there are people, and entire organizations, involved along the way. Those people and organizations can cause bottlenecks.
How things get held up.
According to NPAC, “if there are no errors or issues with validations, and it is a simple port, the FCC has mandated that the request be completed within one business day.” That deadline applies to all simple ports.
But the important distinction is the word “simple.” The FCC says, “Simple ports generally do not involve more than one line or more complex adjustments to telephone switching equipment.” So if you’re porting more than one number or one number from a pool of others, it’s not a simple port. How do you define “more complex adjustments”? This definition makes it easy for losing carriers to define what’s simple and what isn’t. As it turns out, most ports aren’t simple.
A lack of “simplicity” is the number one factor holding up number ports. Many carriers establish arbitrary “rules” around their porting process. Typically these rules revolve around release date. Some carriers ‘require’ 20 days to process port requests. While you’re waiting patiently for that response, the information attached to the porting number, your Customer Service Record (CSR), is being scrutinized to make sure you have the authority to port your number and avoid erroneous porting. If there’s a mismatch in your CSR data it’s usually, and so conveniently, reported by the losing carrier right before the day the port is expected.
Get your data right.
There are a number of reasons CSR data might not match carrier records. Sometimes it’s a typo, it could also be that the customer moved and didn’t update their address. Simple things that cause major delays, because then you have to resubmit the paperwork with amended CSR data and get another release date another 20 (or so) days out. Then, on occasion, the losing carrier finds another problem with the CSR data, and the whole process starts over again.
It makes sense that carriers want to hold on to numbers. The company that controls the number is the company that gets paid for service. However, these days, it’s up to the customer who they pay for phone service, which is why the FCC mandates cooperation from all parties.
To help your ports go as quickly as possible, double and triple check your CSR info before you submit it to your new carrier. Accurate data is the grease that gets the wheels moving fastest so you can enjoy all the benefits your new provider has to offer ASAP.
For more on the ways Flowroute is helping to eliminate the pains of the porting process, check out our recent updates.