What is RespOrg?

RespOrg is a telecom term that means “Responsible Organization” as it relates to toll free numbers and who manages and controls them. Most enterprises have the toll free carrier as their responsible organization which, unfortunately, limits the company’s ability to enact various Disaster Recovery and High Availability (DR/HA) scenarios.

How can establishing a 3rd-Party RespOrg Help Your Business with Various Disaster Recovery (DR) Scenarios?

A carrier toll-free outage caused by a fiber cut, MPLS outage, SD-WAN outage, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, cyber-attack, or even due to a toll free database issue, not only costs a business money due to lost revenue (since they’re not able to receive valuable incoming calls); it can also negatively impact their hard-earned online reputation. In the end, if customers can’t reach a business when needed, the result is poor customer satisfaction and a hit to the bottom line.

In today’s social media world, negative online ratings can happen quickly and can be extremely detrimental. Reviews that are less than stellar may push new customers to the competition and cause existing customers to take a look at other market alternatives. To protect from these types of problems, businesses can subscribe to what is known as a 3rd-party RespOrg company to maintain their toll-free number inventory which gives them the ability to manage toll free call routing THEMSELVES! 

At CarrierBid, we’ve vetted all of the major players in this space and can help walk businesses through the process. We’ve been in business since 2006 and have worked with some of the largest enterprise customers in the United States. The other great news is that there’s no cost to have us involved.

Imagine subscribing to the same database that all of the nationwide carriers and VoIP service providers use– which gives you the ability to reroute toll free calls in near real-time. If there’s a problem with a provider’s service, within minutes, you can send your calls through an alternative carrier (or many other carriers). The great news is that the RespOrg service isn’t expensive at all but it certainly provides crucial benefits.

Is 3rd-party RespOrg Carrier Neutral?

Yes, when you change your responsible organization from a single carrier to your own RespOrg ID, you’re suddenly able to route calls to any number of underlying toll free providers with whom you have contractual relationships (we can help with this part too). Also, there are various RespOrg choices for companies with heavy toll-free traffic.

Why are Toll Free Services Important to a Business?

Toll free inbound calls typically drive new and recurring revenue for a business, so it is crucial to keep the calls coming into your call center or business locations around the country. In today’s social media generation, having an outage where your customers can’t reach you can be devastating to your brand image and reputation. Media outlets of all kinds and sizes just love to write articles about companies who have suffered customer impacting outages. 

Here is an example of outage. Your customer service ratings can be negatively impacted if your clients aren’t able to reach you or if they get frustrated using other channels of communication. We find that younger customers will try omni-channel options first and will resort to calling if they can’t make other methods work to their satisfaction. For the older population, calling tends to be top of mind.  

So, keeping your toll free services up and running 24x7x365 can make a huge difference elevating you above the competition.

Toll free benefits

How are toll free calls routed?

To understand the need for independent 3rd-party RespOrg services in your enterprise, let’s start by explaining the fundamental flow of a toll-free call. The diagram below illustrates the process from the moment a customer picks up the phone until the call is answered by the business contact center. 

By becoming your own RespOrg, you gain direct access to the SMS/800 database, enabling you to control call routing information sent across the network through Service Control Points (SCPs).

Toll Free Call Routing

Somos Inc, manages the SMS/8XX toll free database in the United States, which includes Canada, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Guam, and other Caribbean countries. It is important to understand how the toll-free network functions and how calls are processed so that your business can make informed decisions as to how to best protect your revenue, reputation and customer service levels.

Originally, the toll free database was built when there were few carriers and number porting was rare. The toll free database has grown and now contains hundreds of providers and companies of differing network sizes and reasons to access to the database so that they can best manage their toll-free number inventory and also those of their customers.

1) What is the structure of the toll free database?
The toll free database stores the status of the toll-free number, whether it is available or not, the name of the controlling party, and the routing information. Overall, the service provider and the Responsible Organization, also known as RespOrg, manage the database. Exchange Carriers are either national Interexchange Carriers, known as IXC’s, or Local Exchange Carriers, known as LEC’s. Often, companies such as AT&T, CenturyLink/Lumen, and Verizon have network components that are LEC and also ILEC based. 

These companies, among many others have a Carrier Identification Code (CIC) associated with a Feature Group D (FGD) connection to the various Public Switch Telephone Networks (PSTN) around thee country. The RespOrg is responsible for managing and controlling the routing of each toll free number. The toll free SMS/8XX routing table is replicated into multiple Service Control Points (SCP’s) around the nation, which provides redundancy, reliability and quick access for the service providers.

2) How is the toll-free inventory information maintained?
The CIC operators approve each entry in the database that uses their CIC. Once it is accepted, it is then sent to the nationwide network of SCPs. After a RespOrg is authorized, it is important that the Responsible Organization maintain and coordinate their number inventory within the CIC’s database and internal system. 

Each toll free number pointed to a particular service provider must be known to them in advance. This is very important because, as calls are routed to them, they need to know how to handle each one so that the individual calls can be directed accordingly across their network of customers. Most underlying service providers offer complex and sophisticated routing strategies such as time of day, day of week, day of year, geographic routing, percent allocation, busy ring no answer (BRNA), and alternate call routing, among others.

Responsible Organizations (RespOrgs)
Responsible Organizations are able to access the Somos inventory and reserve new toll free numbers or alternatively, existing numbers can be ported from other RespOrg’s. When a RespOrg reserves and activates a new toll free number, it can typically be completed within just seconds. 

After activation, call routing can be set up to utilize a pre-defined template or by enabling specific routing that applies only to that number. Routing strategies may be designed to improve high availability/disaster recovery (HA/DR) or to enable low cost routing for cost savings, or to block calls. When a toll free number is moved from one RespOrg to another, the process is called “RespOrg Change” or ROC for short. (Yes, there are a lot of acronyms!)

3) How is this information used to route and connect toll free calls?
Here are the simplified steps in the toll free call routing process:

  • A caller dials a toll free number
  • The underlying carrier is given the toll free number and calling party information
  • The carrier then looks up the toll free number in one of the nationwide SCP’s
  • The SCP responds with a CIC code telling the carrier where to route the call
  • The call is then routed to the CIC carrier who handles the call according to their end user customer’s desires

What are the Benefits of Establishing Your Company as it’s own RespOrg?

Being your own RespOrg gives YOU the control and provides access to the same toll free routing database used by nationwide carriers. Your business gets direct control over the management and administration of your toll free numbers, enabling you to customize disaster recovery plans specifically geared to your enterprise. The result is increased security and privacy while ensuring business continuity. We’ve summarized some additional key benefits on the slide below:

RespOrg Benefits

Do I Need Toll Free Disaster Recovery?

Even if you’ve built a data and voice network with “East/West” diversely routed fiber, primary and secondary internet connections using BGP (Border Gateway Protocol to ensure one circuit will route traffic in the event of an outage), the simple fact is that outages will happen. In September 2015, a major carrier experienced a massive toll free outage that took down all traffic for most of one full day. 

As we mentioned above, outages like this happen regularly across the nation. During the 2014 outage, customers who didn’t have the ability to route their own toll free numbers at a higher level, were completely down and couldn’t even reach the carrier to place trouble tickets (since the carrier’s own toll free numbers weren’t functional!).

In October 2016, most of the East Coast experienced a toll free outage for nearly an hour.  For more proof, there were other major outages in 2017 and 2018. In September and early October 2021, Bandwidth.com experienced a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that is estimated to cost the company $12,000,000 in lost revenue and it is unknown what the losses were for toll free customers who use them as their service provider. 

According to Cloudflare, a company who provides DDoS mitigation services to a wide range of enterprise customers, in the first quarter of 2022, “the telecom industry was the most targeted by network-layer DDoS attacks” and attacks over 100 Gbps grew by 645% quarter over quarter. We could list more problems but–you get the point. Those companies who had foresight to enlist the help of an independent 3rd party RespOrg were able to reroute their calls within minutes when faced with these disasters.

If toll free numbers play a critical role in customer support, sales, marketing, or any other critical business functions, ensuring their uptime becomes essential. Does your industry mandate a high degree of availability or are there any governmental regulatory obligations?  

Often, industries such as emergency services, healthcare, and financial companies may have requirements to ensure uninterrupted communications. 

Native to the offering, independent RespOrg offers aggressive Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) that minimize downtime while quickly restoring toll free communications. As a result, third party RespOrg service offerings have a proven track record and decades of success that have established industry credibility and trust. 

Here are some additional causes of toll free outages that can happen locally, regionally or even nationally:

  1. Fiber cuts
  2. SIP/VoIP/PRI downtime or routing problems
  3. Network Issues: MPLS, Internet Access, SD-WAN
  4. Toll Free Database Issues
  5. Lack of Carrier Trunking (Capacity)
  6. Carrier Backbone Issues
  7. Human Error
  8. Power Outages
  9. Unplanned Emergency/Planned Maintenance

How does toll free disaster recovery work?

The most effective toll free disaster recovery plan is accomplished by setting up a split traffic scenario where some usage is routed to both a primary and secondary carrier. We typically recommend that our clients give 50% of their traffic to each provider since it tends to give them more rate leverage.

In this case, both carriers know that they could lose the business instantly should they have a problem or if one carrier’s pricing is higher. At a minimum, 5% of the traffic should be routed to the backup carrier to ensure that the numbers remain provisioned and active within the carrier toll free switch. Carriers have been known to scrub their switches and subsequently, they remove unused numbers which obviously makes disaster recovery impossible should it ever be needed.

You’ll also want to implement redundant infrastructure for your toll-free communications. This can include redundant hardware, servers, and network connections to minimize the impact of a single point of failure. Consider backup power systems and redundant data centers to ensure availability during emergencies.

Regularly test and update your toll-free disaster recovery plan. Conduct drills to verify the effectiveness of call routing plans. Document all the necessary procedures and configurations required for disaster recovery. Ensure that key personnel are aware of their roles and responsibilities during outages and emergencies.

How is toll free disaster recovery established and activated?

  1. We’ll need the CIC codes for each of the carriers to whom you’ve chosen to route your traffic.
  2. We’ll help you build a disaster recovery template
  3. Your numbers will then be routed according to that template
  4. When there is an outage, you’ll initiate a template change
  5. This template change restores your toll free traffic that was negatively impacted by the carrier outage
  6. Once the outage is resolved, your original toll free template can be restored and traffic routed as it was previously
  7. Rapid Response and Support: If needed, a dedicated support team is available 24/7 to address any issues or concerns.

Take a look at this diagram that outlines the process of how toll free disaster recovery works in the event of a fiber cut or carrier outage.

Fiber Cut Disaster Recovery for Toll Free

Do Independent RespOrg’s Act in Their Customer’s Best Interest?

If you have all of your toll free traffic routed through a single carrier and an outage occurs, that carrier doesn’t have any incentive to route your traffic through an alternative provider since it will result in a loss of revenue to them. Having the ability to control your own routing with an independent RespOrg, your best interest is upheld. With just a few clicks, you’re in charge and valuable calls are terminated once again to your contact center or business sites.

Does becoming our own RespOrg cause an outage of any kind ?

No, absolutely not. The process of becoming your own RespOrg is simple and painless.

  1. If you haven’t already negotiated your carrier contracts, we can help with the negotiations and price quotes while recommending viable alternatives that are the best fit for your business.
  2. You’ll want to be sure that you have these complementary carrier agreements set up before porting your numbers which will ensure that your service isn’t interrupted.
  3. We’ll also help you verify that your numbers are “provisioned” with your chosen carriers. Provisioned means that when a call is sent to the carrier, they know where to route it.
  4. Next, you’ll complete a Letter Of Agency (LOA) which tells the providers that you’re porting your numbers away from them and to your own RespOrg ID. This is their formal notice that it is okay to release your toll free numbers.
  5. Once your numbers are ported to your RespOrg ID and provisioned with your carrier(s), the 3rd party RespOrg company will CIC (aka “kick”) the numbers according to your routing instructions.

Can We Test the Service Before Porting All of Our Numbers?

Yes, we definitely recommend porting test toll free numbers first to ensure that everything is working properly. As a part of this process, we’ll help you create a “routing map” that shows where each toll free call should terminate. The first numbers to be kicked (CIC’d) will be these test numbers. Once test calls have been made and the configuration confirmed, you’ll be ready to port and CIC the remaining numbers. As is always prudent, we recommend making test calls after the additional numbers have been ported and CIC’d. (this is just a good management practice)

Can 3rd-party RespOrg companies supply my enterprise with toll free service?

No, they are not carriers but are rather carrier neutral. You’ll still need agreements with two or more service providers such as AT&T, Lumen/CenturyLink, Verizon, Cox, Spectrum, Comcast, etc. since these underlying carriers will still route and terminate the traffic to you using traditional voice services such as SIP, VoIP, TDM, or POTS. Yes, you’ll still need to purchase these services from  available carriers in your area (we’re experts with this). However, only ATL carriers offer toll-free RespOrg’s.

Establishing a third-party RespOrg for your business can be beneficial in various disaster recovery (DR) scenarios. Here are some examples:

Carrier Diversity and Redundancy: By working with a third-party RespOrg to become your own RespOrg, you get carrier diversity and redundancy. This means that your toll-free numbers can be routed through multiple carriers. In the event of a carrier outage or service disruption, you have access to quickly modify the nationwide SOMOS database and reroute your calls at the carrier level, ensuring that your business communications remain operational. (note that you’ll still need to have call routing established with the underlying carriers).

Quick Routing Changes: Being your own RespOrg allows you to facilitate rapid routing changes for your toll-free numbers during DR scenarios. For example, if your primary call center is affected by a disaster, you can redirect incoming calls through an alternative carrier who can then route those calls a secondary call center or backup locations without requiring changes to the advertised toll-free number. This enables your business to maintain continuity and customer service even in challenging situations.

Portability: As your own RespOrg, you can enact toll free number porting with the click of a few buttons.

Centralized Number Management: As your own RespOrg, you’ll get centralized management of all toll-free numbers, allowing for easier administration during DR scenarios. You can make routing changes, update call forwarding instructions, or modify disaster recovery plans through the portal, simplifying the management of your toll-free communication channels.


How Can I Get an 800 Toll Free Vanity Number?

Vanity toll free numbers are the ones that are REALLY easy to remember. They tend to give a business more professionalism and credibility as compared to their competitors. To get a premium toll free vanity number, the great news is that with your subscription, you’ll have access to find out who controls a particular toll free number. 

Free search and query tools are available for both assigned and unassigned numbers within the FCC 8XX database. It’s as simple as entering the number in the search box and pressing “Search”. Once you’ve found a number, it can be reserved and activated within a matter of seconds.

Can I Enable Text Messaging to My Toll Free Numbers?

Yes, we can certainly help you set up this type of service. Texting is one of the few communications that are opened and read on a regular basis. Marketing with outbound phone calls and email typically have a low contact rate percentage as compared to text messaging. Did you know that among 18-34-year-olds, text messaging is what they say is their preferred channel for communications from businesses and that 83% of millennials open text messages right away (within 90 seconds)? 

Text messages are opened and read 98% of the time. Moreover, business text messaging has reached its peak in America. If you’re not using this sales and support channel today, we can help you investigate and choose options that will enhance and help you grow your bottom line.

What is a Service Control Point (SCP)?

A Service Control Point is an integral part of the Advanced Intelligent Network (AIN) switching system within the global telephone voice network and is used to control call flow.

We hope you understand what is RespOrg and how it works. Please reach out to us today via phone or the web contact form at the bottom of this page and we’ll be happy to share our decades of experience with you and your team.

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