It’s safe to say that the number porting process, in general, is very inconsistent from carrier to carrier. Resellers often have an additional set of challenges when navigating the porting waters.
Let’s take a look at some of the main challenges resellers face when their customers want to port numbers between carriers. If we had to summarize the biggest hurdles to jump over in the number porting arena, we could do it in one word, DOCUMENTATION! This challenge can become further exasperated for resellers who are dealing with multiple customers across multiple carriers who all have somewhat nuanced requirements.
Inconsistent documentation requirements
If porting a number was standardized across all providers and geographic areas, the process would be smooth and carefree for resellers. Unfortunately, it’s not. For example, let’s say a customer puts in a port order for 10 numbers. They submit a bill copy that theoretically is supposed to list their name and service address, and all of the numbers they’re porting. Often the port order is sent to the losing carrier and if it’s approved right away, we don’t ever use the bill copy document the reseller provided from the customer. But if it gets rejected, that’s when the bill copy comes into play.
What is needed, if the order is rejected, is proof of ownership of the numbers. We need something that has the customer’s name, the service address and a list of numbers showing that the customer owns those numbers. Once we have that information, we have an easier chance of bypassing the rejection. We can go to the losing carrier and try to get a customer service record (CSR), and then, since we have proof of ownership, we can use this CSR information to further research the rejection.
Sometimes the research gets complicated because “XYZ” provider is billing the customer for these numbers, but they’re not a carrier. So, many providers are not really involved in the porting process per se. The requests go back and forth between actual carriers. So, we are working with the reseller and we send the request to the carrier with the information that was given to us. The carrier comes back and rejects it for a mismatched address. What may have happened is that the address was the reseller address and not the end user. When we have proof of ownership from the end user, all the numbers listed within 30 days, and their name and address, we can go back to the carrier and say okay, we have what you need. This gives us a way to bypass that rejection. But we have to have that proof of ownership before we can even attempt going back to the carrier.
The FCC really considers the end user as the person that has all the power, not the reseller. The person who pays the bill and answers the phone when you call them is who they are trying to serve most. If the end user says no to porting a number they own, it’s a no regardless of what the reseller says. Conversely, if the end user says yes to porting a number, the reseller can’t really say no. There are only a couple of reasons that a reseller can say no when an end user says yes. One reason is if the number is under contract, the other is if the number has been disconnected and the end user owes them money.
Avoiding and resolving rejections
Since carriers do not all require the exact same information, it’s important to pay close attention to what information is being asked for during the porting process. The FCC has a list of data that you can use to verify a port-out. Carriers can use whatever combination of those guidelines the FCC has stated.
Carriers choose different combinations of verification information, and therefore, there’s little or no consistency in the process. It’s not unusual for 50% of port orders to get rejected. The majority of those will be for reasons that can be quickly resolved, but it does illustrate the need to have clean and accurate documentation up front to ensure a smoother experience.
One example of a quick resolution of a rejection is a wireless port. 99.9% of the time, a wireless port requires a PIN number. If an order is submitted without a PIN it will likely get an immediate rejection. We go back to the customer to get the PIN and then it’s usually quickly resolved.
Some of the larger carriers seem to have especially gnarly porting processes. Sometimes their portals are complicated and user unfriendly, to say the least. They each have their own acronym-heavy user experience that makes it easy for mistakes to be made. Additionally, navigating through some of these seemingly antiquated portals can often be frustrating.
Understanding the number porting process
Ideally, onboarding training for resellers covers the porting process, including how the system works and what to expect.