Before Number Portability, toll free numbers were “owned” by the carriers. The subscriber could not change their toll free service provider without also changing their 800 numbers; a prohibitive disincentive for the customer to switch and for the carrier to provide the most competitive services. But now every individual toll free telephone number is managed (not owned) by a RespOrg (short for Responsible Organization). RespOrgs were established in 1993, pursuant to FCC order, as an essential part of the implementation of toll free number portability. All licensed RespOrgs have access to the Service Management System (“SMS”), a database system that controls the routing of all toll free telephone numbers in North America and the Caribbean. Routing schemes may be incredibly sophisticated using a variety of criteria.
If your 800 numbers are critical to your business, you should consider the services provided by an independent resporg. The vast majority of RespOrgs are primarily long distance carriers. In most instances, by default, the carrier providing the toll free service also serves as the RespOrg for those toll free numbers. When your carrier is also your RespOrg, that carrier has no interest whatsoever in providing you with access to other carriers to implement Least Cost Routing or Disaster Recovery services via alternate delivery routes using other carriers. Simply put, your carrier / RespOrg does not want to send your traffic to their competition.
Compare this to an Independent RespOrg; a RespOrg that is non-carrier affiliated and therefore does not profit from the underlying carrier transport services. Independent RespOrgs provide toll free number management services only, based solely on their client’s directions, serving ONLY their client’s best interests. This is why an Independent RespOrg is critical to your ability to take full advantage of the complete spectrum of cost efficiencies, network stability and number protection services which can now be implemented by Independent RespOrgs via “SMS”, the National 800 Service network. We treat all carriers with neutrality to your benefit.
If your 800 numbers are important to your business you are at risk if you do not take full control of them. If your carrier is also your RespOrg, your carrier has the ability to decide the number to which your toll free numbers will terminate, the carrier to which they will be directed and other details of how they will be routed.
Cost considerations aside, while this arrangement may be acceptable where the relationship with your carrier is a smooth one, it can be very dangerous in the event that a dispute arises with your carrier. Should this occur you are at the mercy of your carrier / RespOrg should you want to change carriers or change the manner in which your calls are routed. As such, the carrier / RespOrg has an inherent conflict and can not truly represent the best interests of their clients.
Carriers provide RespOrg services as an ancillary service that they must provide to sell their core product, long distance services. It is not the focus of their business and, as a rule, their service offerings are rudimentary at best simply based on the sheer volume of numbers they control. If your numbers are not well supervised routing errors or missing numbers may have disastrous results to your business. Imagine loosing your 800 numbers for good?
In contrast, for an Independent RespOrg, providing RespOrg services is their only business. As a result, service offerings are far more robust and can be tailored to each customer’s specific needs. Moreover, unlike carrier RespOrgs who are in the business is selling you the maximum amount of their carrier services, independent RespOrgs work with you to maximize the capability and efficiency of your toll free numbers regardless of the underlying serving carrier(s). And, of course, with an independent RespOrg, you can sleep better at night knowing that you always have absolute control over your toll free services and you are never at the mercy of your communications service provider. In addition, an Independent RespOrg, can protect their clients from unwanted attempts to seize control of or to redirect their toll free numbers.