In 1993, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made toll-free numbers portable and established the SMS/800 national toll-free database to enable customers to switch service providers while retaining ownership of their toll-free numbers.
Using 1980s technology and regulated by the FCC, SMS/800 Inc. (now Somos, Inc.) established a national registry for toll-free numbers, and a network of Service Control Points (SCPs) to manage call routing and carrier selection. SCP owner operators were licensed to run the SMS/800 database and Signal System No. 7 (SS7) signaling components needed for call routing, and a new licensed entity, called the Responsible Organization (RespOrg), was formed.
During the early 1990s, CSF Corporation began developing a suite of software tools, known as 8MS (and now as 8MS Cloud), which are aimed at simplifying and automating the toll-free number management, provisioning, and porting processes. The 8MS software was initially licensed and hosted by the RespOrg on large Unix systems with database connections to SMS/800 maintained by that same entity. In recent years, 8MS has become fully cloud-enabled and offered as software-as-a-service; and underwent a name change to 8MS Cloud in early 2017.
To understand the importance of RespOrgs in the toll-free ecosystem, one has to follow the boom in toll-free number usage:
Between 1993 and 2000, the quantity of working toll-free numbers grew rapidly from 3.2 million in 1993 to more than 20 million in 2000. New toll-free codes were issued to meet this demand, including the 888 area code in 1996, the 877 code in 1998, and the 866 code in 2000. The following years continued to see additional growth in the quantity of working toll-free numbers growing more than 26 percent, from 22.7 million in December 2006 to over 28.8 million in November 2010. With the pool of available toll-free numbers dangerously low, the FCC opened the 855 code in October 2010 and 844 numbers in December 2013.
With more than 43 million toll-free numbers in use by late 2016, the FCC ordered Somos, Inc. to issue a new 833 toll-free area code that opened on June 3rd of this year.
Toll-free RespOrgs are licensed entities that are certified to manage all toll-free numbers and interact with the SMS/800 national registry. RespOrgs early on were carriers that administered toll-free numbers on behalf of their customers. Later, other players—including those in the vanity numbers business, marketing industry, and even large toll-free end users—became RespOrgs all sharing the objective of acquiring, managing, and routing their toll-free numbers as strategic assets.
With this growth in toll-free numbers, the number of RespOrgs that are licensed to acquire and manage toll-free numbers through the SMS/800 national database has also increased from less than 100 in the 1990s to approximately 500 today.
Summing up, RespOrgs are important service providers in the tool-free industry and are poised to expand in number and size as more and more toll-free numbers are being deployed by businesses everywhere.
To learn more about RespOrgs register for our webinar 12/19/17 at 2pm EST