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How telephone numbers are assigned May 3, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Definitions, Telecommunications.
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The North American Numbering Plan Administration assigns telephone numbers to state-certified wireline carriers in each state. Wireless carriers also receive numbers from the North American Number Plan Administration. However, they don’t need to register on a state-by-state basis because the FCC, not individual states, licenses them to offer service. Carriers such as Vonage, Broadview Networks, and SBC for their IP services are required to obtain telephone numbers from local exchange carriers (LECs) in each state. The LECs can be either the incumbent or a competitor to the incumbent. The reason for this requirement is that VoIP is not defined at this time as a telecommunications service. Thus, VoIP carriers or the department and subsidiaries within carriers that offer VoIP must enter into agreements with a licensed carrier to obtain local telephone numbers in each state in which they wish to offer Voice over IP service. SBC IP has asked the FCC for a waiver of the requirement to obtain numbers from other carriers. In their own territory, they receive num,bers from their parent, SBC. However, when they offer VoIP outside of their home territory, they have to enter agreements with other LECs. Prior to the announced merger with SBC, AT&T objected to SBC IP’s request for a waiver, saying this would be unfair to other VoIP providers.


The North American Numbering Plan Administration assigns numbers in blocks of 1,000. This is called the number pooling system of allotting numbers because pools of 1,000 unused numbers are created. Prior to the year 2000, numbers were assigned to carriers in blocks of 10,000. This resulted in wasted numbers because many smaller carriers who did not use up all of their numbers could not share them with other carriers. To further conserve their numbers, in 2000, the FCC mandated that phone companies must first use up 60% of their assigned phone numbers before being given new ones. As of June 30, 2004, that percentage increased to 75%.

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