Responsible Organization (RespOrg)

Author: Anagha Ravi

What is a RespOrg?

A Responsible Organization (RespOrg) refers to a carrier that owns and manages toll-free services and 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.

How do RespOrgs 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.

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 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 numbers. 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 middleman 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.

What are the benefits of working with a RespOrg?

RespOrgs are authorized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to be responsible for the management and administration of your toll-free numbers in North America. 

  1. No middlemen. Working with a RespOrg means you’re going directly to the source for your toll-free voice calling and phone numbers. 
  2. Cost efficiency. Rather than purchasing toll-free services from a reseller, working with a RespOrg may eliminate markups associated with other providers. 
  3. More control. A RespOrg can provide access to advanced features and services such as call routing, Caller ID, and call analytics to improve the calling experience.
  4. Disaster recovery. Some RespOrgs have strong toll-free failover in place, like multi-carrier redundancy and hands-free disaster recovery.

What is a RespOrg form? Where can I find a RespOrg form?

A RespOrg form is also known as a Responsible Organization Change Authorization. (The term Letter of Authorization (LOA) is sometimes used as well, though a LOA does not apply strictly to toll-free numbers.) You must send a RespOrg form to your new carrier to authorize them to contact your current carrier to arrange the porting of your toll-free number. Your current carrier can provide you with this form.

How do I port my toll-free number, and what are steps I can take to help the process go smoothly?

To port your toll-free number, you must authorize your new carrier to work with your current carrier to release ownership of your number via a Letter of Authorization (LOA). The simplest way to help your port go off without a hitch is to verify that the information in the LOA you send to your new carrier exactly matches the information held by your current carrier and that it is properly authorized.

When you begin the porting process, consider requesting a copy of your CSR (customer service record) from your provider so you can verify the information in your authorized port-out request. This document contains relevant information connected to your toll-free number. Submitting your CSR alongside your port request can resolve any confusion before it starts. Once your port is underway, we also recommend setting up messaging URLs prior to your port date to help safeguard against disruptions. 

Why did my current carrier reject my port request?

There are several reasons a port request may fail. The most common (and preventable) are clerical errors on your LOA or issues with the authority of the signer.  A more in-depth look at reasons for port rejection can be found in this blog: 7 Most Common Reasons Your Port Order Is Rejected.

What is vanity numbering, and how can I get a vanity number?

Vanity numbers use the dial pad to spell out a word, phrase or acronym (who could forget “877-CASHNOW”?). They are a useful marketing tool that can make your business more memorable and easier to reach. 

Toll-free numbers are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, and your RespOrg can let you know whether or not a particular vanity number is available. Fortunately, toll-free prefixes aren’t just limited to 800 – they include 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, and 833. The prefixes are not interchangeable, so it is always possible that your vanity number is available under a different prefix. 

Take back your toll-freedom

Turn on cruise control with Bandwidth’s 5x carrier redundancy, global reach, disaster recovery, and RespOrg capability.

Does maintaining your own RespOrg give you more control over routing?

If you act as your own RespOrg, it’s your responsibility to manage your toll-free templates in the Somos database. This database tells the world where to route a call when someone dials a toll-free number. 

Sounds simple, but what if there’s a problem at 2 am on a Saturday? Or worse, 2 am on a Monday? Do you have someone available 24/7/365 to react to an outage so that your customer’s toll-free calls don’t fail? Bandwidth does, with a 24/7 Network Operations Center (NOC) dedicated to eliminating downtime with proactive network monitoring.

Terms related to RespOrgs

Learn more about Bandwidth as a RespOrg

As a RespOrg, Bandwidth can acquire, manage, and route toll-free calls for our customers. In the unlikely event of a service interruption, Bandwidth can quickly reroute traffic and minimize customer outages. We enable you to directly control IP failover in real time and sail hands-free through toll-free disaster recovery during even extraordinary disruptions. 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.