You’ve selected a new telephone carrier, confident that the services offered meet the needs of your business, and a date has been set to make the cutover. Now the clock is ticking.
The cutover of business telephone service to a new carrier is a major step for any company, no matter its size, and therefore requires a solid game plan. The ideal is that the transition from one carrier to another be as seamless as possible, with no surprises and no disruption of service. But the ideal is not always the reality, so a good plan must contemplate worst case possibilities in order to prepare for them.
Moving your telephone numbers (“porting” them) from one carrier to another is permitted so long as your business remains in the same geographic area. In the jargon of the trade, this is referred to as local number portability, or LNP. Regardless of your current phone service carrier, the FCC requires that all land-line service providers allow customers to port their numbers to a new service provider, which is done by way of a location routing number (LRN). By removing the inconvenience of having to change telephone numbers when signing on with a new carrier, you will find that there is greater competition for business among local service providers.
When a customer moves its local service to a new carrier, a new LRN is assigned to the telephone numbers being ported. Each local exchange, long distance or wireless carrier needs to know what that new LRN is in order to route calls correctly, accomplished though use of Local Service Management System (LSMS) databases distributed among exchange carriers –when a call is made from another area, that carrier refers to its LSMS database to obtain the current LRN for the number dialed.
In porting numbers, the “donor network” (your soon-to-be canceled carrier) provides the numbers and the “recipient network” (the new local exchange carrier) accepts the numbers. The operation of porting numbers requires that those numbers be removed from one network and inserted into the receiving network. The FCC allows a carrier that is losing numbers up to 30 days to release those numbers to a new carrier. Since some carriers may release numbers sooner than that, this is a question you must ask of your present carrier when planning the cutover.
Do not terminate your existing telephone service until all numbers have been ported and fully tested. Once the porting of numbers is completed you will be notified by your new service provider and at that point you can cancel your previous phone service. Depending on the size of your operation, porting numbers and testing the lines can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days. Terminating service prematurely will release your phone numbers back into your service provider’s pool of numbers, a situation that you don’t want to have happen.
Further, although numbers are being taken away from your former carrier, your account might not be closed automatically and could continue to accrue monthly service charges until you direct the carrier to close the account. Be aware, too, that your former carrier may impose service termination fees.
- Map current phone numbers and Central Office (CO) lines being provided through your current carrier into the phone system; CO lines provide dial tone and terminate at what is commonly called the demarc (the demarcation point at which the public switched telephone network ends and connects with your on-premises wiring). This may require calling in your phone system vendor for help in identifying which phone numbers go into which ports on your phone system. At the time of the cutover, your new carrier will test lines for dial tone and then your equipment service provider will test each line to be certain that local and long distance calls can be made and received (for phones, fax machines and credit card machines)
- Make space in your equipment room for any new equipment the new carrier may be installing and clearly mark where you want this equipment to be place
- Order new phone service, set an installation date and make a list of all numbers that are to be ported to the new carrier. This information will become part of a “cut sheet” that your new carrier will create for you and your system vendor, whose technician will work with the carrier technician to accomplish the cutover.
- Notify your current telecom service provider that you will be cancelling service on the cutover date. Most vendors require 30 days notice or they charge a cancellation fee
- Get a “cut sheet” from your new carrier and provide a copy of that to your phone system vendor. The cut sheet is a listing of all work to be done to accomplish the cutover, including carrier equipment to be installed, programming to be done and lists of all phone and fax numbers to be ported.
A well planned and organized cutover of telephone service, while a complex matter, should be accomplished without a disruption of business.
Visit tsmsouth.com to find out more about cutting over business telephone service.