What is a RespOrg?
RespOrg is short for Responsible Organization. It refers to a carrier that owns and manages toll-free numbers. As the name suggests, a RespOrg is tasked with registering and indexing its toll-free numbers in the 800 database. Some carriers, like Bandwidth, are also RespOrgs. If you decide to port your toll-free number to a new service provider, your current carrier must authorize the release of that individual number to your new carrier’s RespOrg.
History of RespOrgs
Though they were established in 1993, the history of RespOrgs (sometimes typed Resp Org) really begins with the breakup of the Bell System in 1982. When toll-free calling originated in the 1950s, number prefixes were specific to particular geographical regions, causing businesses to need multiple telephone numbers for distant customers and clients. Not only did this present marketing challenges but the cost of supporting multiple trunks was a burden on small businesses.
In response to this problem, Roy P. Weber of Bell Labs invented a “database communication call processing method.” This system registered toll-free phone numbers in a massive single database that allowed calls to be routed and reassigned anywhere in the world. This came at a great cost savings for businesses and ignited the popularity of vanity numbering as a marketing tool. However, the rise of Weber’s new technology coincided with the rise of the Bell System monopoly. Previously, telephone companies maintained the index of toll-free numbers and there was no need for a system that allowed businesses to keep their number if they switched to a better-suited carrier. When antitrust laws caused Bell Operating Companies to fracture into multiple independent carriers, number porting became a necessity.
RespOrgs were created by the Federal Communications Commission to give users ultimate ownership of their number. Under this framework, businesses can choose their RespOrg and their toll free number can be released back to them or ported to a new carrier if they choose. Modern FCC regulations prevent RespOrgs from “warehousing” or “hoarding” numbers by getting toll-free numbers without an actual intended subscriber, or by acquiring a bulk of numbers and attempting to act as a middle man by selling them to potential subscribers. This helps even the playing field for small businesses by giving them equal access to toll-free numbers and vanity numbering.
How does it work?
RespOrgs manage toll-free number databases, assign numbers, and maintain records on the status of toll-free numbers. If you want to obtain a toll-free number, contact a RespOrg, like Bandwidth. If you already have a toll-free number registered with a different RespOrg, but would like to change carriers, you must send your new carrier a Letter of Authorization (LOA) signed by an authorized representative of your company. That will allow your new carrier to work with your current carrier to get your number released, ported, and indexed properly with your new independent RespOrg or carrier RespOrg.
The porting process is variable in how long it can take (see our support article for general timelines), but the process may take longer if your current carrier needs additional information to process the port request. Typically, your current carrier will continue to service your number until the port is fully complete, but the process cannot begin until your number is released to your new provider.
What Are the Benefits of Bandwidth as a RespOrg
As a RespOrg, Bandwidth has the ability to acquire, manage, and route toll-free calls for our customers. In the unlikely event of a service interruption, Bandwidth has the ability to quickly reroute traffic and minimize customer outages. We enable you to directly control IP failover and disaster recovery in real time. That means if you need to maintain your legacy contact center for failover, you can enable your admins to make those changes in real time.