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Can Your Company Take Your Phone Numbers When It Moves?

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Can Your Company Take Your Phone Numbers When It Moves?

August 15, 2016
By Tracey E. Schelmetic
TMCnet Contributor

It’s a nightmare many companies have faced: we’re moving our offices, but we’re not looking forward to the telecom nightmare that’s going to follow. Can we keep our phone numbers, or do we have to inform all of our customers of new phone numbers, and risk losing old repeat buyers? Do we need to change our internal phone numbers? The good news is that since not all business telephone systems are created equal, some are actually kind of a breeze when a company is moving its premises.

Companies that use a proprietary, premise-based PBX (News - Alert) (private branch exchange) phone system (including on-premise/PBX VoIP), will find that keeping an internal phone directory is relatively easy. On-premise PBX systems are run on hardware boxes that serve as the brains of your phone, holding all of the extensions in your internal company phone directory. When you move offices, you simply take the box with you and your directory will remain intact when the system is reconnected at your new location.

Many other types of phone systems, most notably hosted PBX, Skype (News - Alert) for Business, cloud-based on-premise and cloud-based VoIP, will not be as easy to move, according to a recent white paper by Apropos. With all of these technologies, it becomes necessary to engage with a third party to keep your organization’s directory intact, especially if you are moving out of the area or to a different carrier.

The technology that allows phone numbers to be easily transported anywhere in the country, even to different area codes (although not internationally) is called LNP, or “local number portability.”

“LNP is made technically feasible by the location routing number (LRN), a unique 10-digit telephone number assigned to each phone switch,” according to Apropos. “The LRN approach allows phone numbers to be ported without sending the entire phone system into disarray.”

While FCC (News - Alert) rules mandate that companies (and individuals) switching carriers be permitted to keep their phone numbers, the technology complications have held many organizations back. Apropos recommends that IT administrators make sure that their hosted or cloud-based phone provider has an open policy if and when the organization needs to port its directory numbers to a new provider. The days when telecom providers were stubborn about moving “proprietary” numbers are largely over. Now, cloud-based providers purchase and own blocks of phone numbers, which they then sell to their customers.

“Today, more and more businesses are seeking to provide users with unified communications (UC), the seamless integration of all of the ways people communicate with each other these days (chat, voice, SMS, web-conferencing, mobile, email and, yes, fax),” wrote Apropos. “UC can provide a significant number of IT, employee and business benefits. To implement it, you have to go beyond PBX. Practically speaking, hosted solutions are probably the fastest and least expensive way to deploy what is rapidly becoming the standard for business communications.”

Edited by Alicia Young

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