A closer look at the number porting process

By Eric Lee, Cloud Solutions Architect – Voice

This post will give you an under-the-hood view of the number porting process. If you would like a guided walk-through of how to port numbers from your existing telephony carrier to Skype for Business Online, please read Port a Phone Number to Cloud PBX in Office365 blog post by Matt Soseman.


Number portability is required to be performed by a Local Exchange Carrier (LEC) in accordance with the rules and procedures established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). For official information on the porting process, review the FCC regulations here. Based on my experience with number porting, there are three important aspects to understand: participants, port types and intervals, and the actual process (and how to prevent rejections).

Number porting process participants

No party has complete control of the number porting process. As you work through the process, it is helpful to familiarize yourself with the various parties involved. All participants work together to successfully complete port requests.

Customer: Registered owner of the telephone number(s)

Losing Carrier: Carrier of record prior to the porting process

Winning Carrier: Carrier of record following the completion of the porting process

Number Portability Administration Center (NPAC): World’s largest number portability registry

Federal Communications Commission (FCC): Agency that regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable in all 50 states, District of Columbia, and U.S territories

Port types and intervals

Carriers should adhere to standards, requirements, and recommendations set forth by the FCC for number porting. The porting process intervals can be affected by rejections and types of ports requested. Each carrier has their own Service-level agreement (SLA) goals but they can’t be guaranteed in all cases. Typically, the winning carrier will submit the porting request based on the business rules of the losing carrier. Please consult with your carrier for Local Service Request (LSR) confirmation, LSR acceptance intervals, and Firm Order Commitment (FOC) response times.

Simple porting

Simple ports are usually considered to be a single telephone number that excludes unbundled network elements, multiple lines, and complex switch translations. The goal of a simple port is to be completed in less than two business days.

Standard porting

Standard ports are usually considered to be more than one and less than 100 telephone numbers that include a single Billing Telephone Number (BTN), single address, single losing carrier, and rate center. A typical standard port is completed in seven business days.

Complex porting

Complex ports are not subject to FCC rules and may be subjected to negotiated arrangements between carriers. Complex ports include multiple rate centers, multiple BTNs, and multiple addresses. Also, the losing carrier can identify a port request as complex due to special handling of legacy properties. A typical complex port is to be completed in less than 20 business days.

Project porting

Project ports are like complex ports but with 100 or more telephone numbers, a single BTN, single losing carrier, and a single address. Project ports typically require manual handling and are the most time consuming of all porting types. A typical project port is to be completed in less than 20 business days.

Toll-free porting

Toll-free ports are porting of any 8xx number. Toll-free porting varies throughout the industry and is not subjected to the same mandates by the FCC. A typical toll-free port is to be completed in less than 7 business days.

Expedited requests

An expedited request is initiated by the customer with the goal to shorten the time frame of a specific port request. All expedited requests are considered best efforts and require cooperation from other carriers who may not always support them.

Porting process

Now that we have covered participants, porting types, and intervals associated with number porting, let’s look at the porting process in more detail. Given below is a high-level summary of the porting process for a typical port. In this example, the customer is switching to the winning carrier and wants to keep his/her existing telephone number.

  1. Customer submits his/her port request to the winning carrier
  2. The winning carrier notifies the losing carrier of the requested port
  3. The losing carrier is asked to validate the customer's information
  4. The losing carrier confirms the customer's information and notifies the winning carrier. If the order is rejected by the losing carrier, the customer is notified of the rejection. Then the customer corrects the order manually and resubmits the port request to the winning carrier.
  5. The winning carrier notifies the NPAC of the requested port
  6. The NPAC creates a pending port and sends a notification to the losing carrier
  7. Optionally, the losing carrier notifies the NPAC that it concurs with the port
  8. The winning carrier notifies the NPAC to activate the port
  9. The pending port is activated in the NPAC and broadcasted to the industry
  10. The winning carrier advises the customer of the completed port

Preventing rejections

Port requests may be rejected for several preventable reasons. Understanding the most common rejections and how to avoid them, is a good first step in overcoming rejections and getting port orders through as quickly as possible. Some of the more common reasons of rejections include:

Address mismatch: Address submitted in the order does not match the address in the losing carrier’s records

Name mismatch: The business name in the order does not match the one in the losing carrier’s records

Billing Telephone Number (BTN) mismatch: The BTN in the order does not match the BTN in the losing carrier’s records

Pending order: A pending order can be another port request that was submitted with the same number(s) or BTN

Carrier freeze: A freeze has been requested on the account that prevents the numbers from being ported. The freeze must be removed for the port process to continue.

PIN: If there is a PIN associated with the account, it will be needed to port the numbers

Depending on the carrier, the number porting process can be fast and straightforward or lengthy and complex. Successful number porting requires cooperation from all parties involved and a clear understanding of the process. Hopefully this post fulfills the latter of the two requirements.

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Helpful acronyms and descriptions

Familiarize yourself with the terms and acronyms associated with the number porting process.

Acronyms Description
BTN Billing Telephone Number – the BTN is the main telephone number on a customer account
BTR Business Transaction Rules – BTR are the rules that govern business conduct
CSR Customer Service Record – the CSR is the record of information that the current carrier keeps on file which they check when receiving a request to port a number
DID Direct Inward Dial
FCC Federal Communications Commission – this agency regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable in all 50 states, District of Columbia and U.S territories
FOC Firm Order Commitment – the FOC is the permission the current carrier gives to a winning carrier to port a number. Once the order has received the FOC, it has been approved to port
LEC Local Exchange Carrier – this is the local central office that terminates lines from homes and businesses
LNP Local Number Portability – the process of porting one number from one carrier to another
LOA Letter of Authorization – the LOA is a signed agreement indicating that the end user wishes to switch services to a different provider
LSR Local Service Request – the LSR is submitted to other carriers to port a number(s)
PON Purchase Order Number
PSTN Public Switch Telephone Network – PSTN is the aggregate of the world's circuit-switched telephone networks providing infrastructure and services for public telecommunication
NPAC Number Portability Administration Center – the NPAC is the central mediation center for all LNP activity
NNSP New Network Service Provider – fields on a standard LSR for porting to identify which carrier SPID will be the new provider of service
ONSP Old Network Service Provider – fields on a standard LSR for porting to identify which carrier SPID will be the old provider of service
SPID Service Provider ID – this is a 4-digit alpha-numeric code that identifies theowner of record in NPAC

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