Toll-free number portability

Last updated

Toll-free number portability (Canada, US, New Zealand) or freephone number portability (Australia, UK) allows the subscriber of a freephone number to switch providers while retaining the same number for incoming calls. Similar schemes exist in many countries for local number portability and mobile number portability, although implementation details for each portability scheme varies between countries.



ACA fixed a November 2000 implementation date for the provision of local rate and freephone number portability. The industry established a body, Industry Number Management Services (INMS) Ltd, to allocate individual numbers and administer the centralised reference database of all allocated local rate and freephone numbers. [1]

Vanity numbers, such as phonewords or short 13- series shared-cost service numbers, are made available by auction.

Europe and UK

United Kingdom numbers in the 0800 range (BT Freefone) first became portable in June 1997. [2] Previously, rival carriers used differing area codes, 0800 for BT Freefone and 0500 for Cable & Wireless Freecall numbers.

Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and Belgium also introduced portability schemes in the late 1990s.

North America

In the original InWATS service, introduced in 1967, there was no number portability. Each exchange prefix in the +1-800 area code was assigned to a specific carrier in a specific region (for instance, +1-800-387 was Bell Canada in Toronto) and the numbers were brought to subscribers (usually large companies or governmental organisations) on special fixed-rate inbound trunks.

The system was redesigned in 1981 to use a database, the SMS/800 service management system, which could direct any toll-free number to any destination based on various conditions; number prefixes remained tied to specific carriers until a RespOrg (responsible organisation) structure was introduced in 1993 (US) and 1994 (Canada) to allow subscribers to change providers by providing a Letter of Authorisation (LOA) on company letterhead to their new provider authorising a number to be moved. [3]

New Zealand

TNAS Limited, a joint venture company owned by Telecom and Vodafone, operates the Toll Free Number Portability system. The TNAS System is a database for co-ordination of allocation and porting of toll-free numbers and is used by nine carriers. [4] A client may switch service providers, or a service provider switch host carriers, without a change in the published toll-free number. [5]

Related Research Articles

Wide Area Telephone Service (WATS) was a flat-rate long-distance service offering for customer dial-type telecommunications in some of the countries that adhere to the North American Numbering Plan. The service was between a given customer phone and stations within specified geographic rate areas, employing a single telephone line between the customer location and the serving central office. Each access line could be arranged for outward (OUT-WATS) or inward (IN-WATS) service, or both.

North American Numbering Plan Integrated telephone numbering plan serving 20 North American countries

The North American Numbering Plan (NANP) is a telephone numbering plan for twenty-five regions in twenty countries, primarily in North America and the Caribbean. This group is historically known as World Zone 1 and has the international calling code 1. Some North American countries, most notably Mexico, do not participate in the NANP.

A toll-free telephone number or freephone number is a telephone number that is billed for all arriving calls instead of incurring charges to the originating telephone subscriber. For the calling party, a call to a toll-free number from a landline is free of charge.

Telephone numbers in the United Kingdom

Telephone numbers in the United Kingdom are administered by the Office of Communications (Ofcom). For this purpose, Ofcom established a telephone numbering plan, known as the National Telephone Numbering Plan, which is the system for assigning telephone numbers to subscriber stations.

The Australian telephone numbering plan describes the allocation of phone numbers in Australia. It has changed many times, the most recent major reorganisation by the Australian Communications & Media Authority taking place between 1994 and 1998.

Telephone numbers in the Netherlands

Telephone numbers in the Netherlands are administered by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation of the Netherlands and may be grouped into three general categories: geographical numbers, non-geographical numbers, and numbers for public services.

In telecommunications, a long-distance call (U.S.) or trunk call is a telephone call made to a location outside a defined local calling area. Long-distance calls are typically charged a higher billing rate than local calls. The term is not necessarily synonymous with placing calls to another telephone area code.

In Argentina, area codes are two, three, or four digits long. Local customer numbers are six to eight figures long. The total number of digits is ten, for example, phone number (11) 1234-5678 for Buenos Aires is made up of a 2-digit area code number and an 8-digit subscriber's number, while (383) 123-4567 would be an example of a Catamarca number.

Number pooling is a method of reallocating telephony numbering space in the North American Numbering Plan, primarily in growth areas in the United States.

Direct inward dialing (DID), also called direct dial-in (DDI) in Europe and Oceania, is a telecommunication service offered by telephone companies to subscribers who operate a private branch exchange (PBX) system. The feature provides service for multiple telephone numbers over one or more analog or digital physical circuits to the PBX, and transmits the dialed telephone number to the PBX so that a PBX extension is directly accessible for an outside caller, possibly by-passing an auto-attendant.

The Big Number Change addressed various issues with the telephone dialling plan in the United Kingdom, during the late-1990s and early-2000s.

Telephone numbers in the Republic of Ireland

Numbers on the Irish telephone numbering plan are regulated and assigned to operators by ComReg.

Telephone numbers in Romania

The dialling plan for mobile networks and new landline operators is closed; all subscriber numbers must be dialled in full. For landline numbers starting with 02, the dialling plan used to be open; the trunk digit and area code could be omitted if the caller was in the same area code as the callee. However, starting May 3, 2008, all landline numbers must be dialled in full.

The Brazilian telephone numbering plan uses a two-digit area code plus eight-digit local phone numbers for landlines and nine digits for mobile lines. Public utility services use short phone numbers, always starting with 1.

In the North American Numbering Plan, a RespOrg is a company that maintains the registration for individual toll-free telephone numbers in the distributed Service Management System/800 database. Their function in North American telephony is analogous to that of an individual registrar in the Internet's Domain Name System.

Telephone numbers in Spain

The Spanish telephone numbering plan is the allocation of telephone numbers in Spain. It was previously regulated by the Comisión del Mercado de las Telecomunicaciones (CMT), but is now regulated by the Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia (CNMC).

Telephone numbers in Germany

The regulation of telephone numbers in Germany is the responsibility of the Federal Network Agency of the German government. The agency has a mandate to telecommunications in Germany and other infrastructure systems.

The national conventions for writing telephone numbers vary by country. While international standards exist in the form of the International Telecommunication Union sector ITU-T issued recommendation E.123, national telephone numbering plans define the format and length of telephone numbers assigned to telephones.

In the United States of America, Canada, and other countries participating in the North American Numbering Plan, a toll-free telephone number has one of the area codes 800, 833, 844, 855, 866, 877, and 888.

Somos, Inc., is a company that manages registry databases for the telecommunications industry. Additionally, since January 1, 2019, the company has been the North American Numbering Plan Administrator, under a contract granted by the Federal Communications Commission.


  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. "Rslcom Europe Offers Toll-Free Number Portability".
  3. "SMS/800 - Service Provider & Management for Toll Free Services". Archived from the original on 11 November 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  4. "Toll Free Number Portability - TCF".
  5. "Toll Free Number Portability - TCF".

See also