Are there programs that will allow a company to preserve a phone directory when moving offices?

Management

Management

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Generally speaking, there are no such programs, although there are providers who charge a subscription fee to continue to forward calls to any number for an indefinite period of time.

If you have a proprietary, on-premises Private Branch Exchange (PBX) phone system (including on-premises/PBX VoIP), preserving an internal phone directory is relatively easy. On-premises PBX systems are run on hardware boxes that serve as the brains of your phone, holding all of the extensions in your internal company phone directory. When you move offices, you simply take the box with you, and your directory will remain intact when the system is reconnected at your new location. Moving a PBX system is just like physically moving a refrigerator: even after you move it to a new office, it’s still the same fridge. In some cases, you may need to reprogram some of your extensions. It’s a good idea to store a list of your extensions in Microsoft® Excel® (or similar programs) to reestablish your directory.

If your office phones run through a service provider or the phone company, you will need them to help you move your directory to the new office (in most cases, your telecom provider will deal directly with the carrier on your behalf). These types of phone systems come in a multitude of packages with each operating in a different way. There is hosted PBX, Skype® for Business, cloud-based on-premises systems, cloud-based VoIP systems, SIP Trunking and several others. In all cases, it is necessary to engage with a third party to keep your directory intact—especially if you are moving out of the area or to a different carrier. 

How is it possible to port (move) phone numbers from one location to another?

The technology behind moving phone numbers is called Local Number Portability (LNP). LNP is made technically feasible by the Location Routing Number (LRN), a unique 10-digit telephone number assigned to each phone switch. The LRN approach allows phone numbers to be ported without sending the entire phone system into disarray.

If for example, your company is moving to a new area code, LNP makes it possible for all of those numbers to remain the same when you move. (Note: this is specific to the United States. Moving to another country will require an entirely different approach.)

Phone calls are typically routed based on the first six digits of the telephone number. These six digits make up the address of the switch serving the telephone number. But when a number is moved to a new location, the LNP system then looks at the entire 10-digit LRN. The LNP system makes it very easy for carriers to move phone numbers from one switch to another. As a result, the first six-digits of a phone number are no longer a reliable indicator of the serving switch or the service provider's identity—or even whether the number is wired or wireless.

Are there ever problems porting phone numbers in a company directory?

Most telecom providers and carriers understand that there is no upside to hassling companies about moving phone numbers. In fact, the FCC mandates that users must be free to switch between carriers as well as platforms—between wireline and wireless, VoIP, hosted and cloud solutions. It has even gone so far as to dictate how quickly the porting must take place.

Cloud-based providers purchase and own blocks of phone numbers, which they then sell to their customers. There was a period of time when some of these companies, in a misguided attempt to retain customers, would make it difficult for customers that wanted to move these “proprietary” numbers to a different solution provider. To avoid working with such a company, IT administrators would do well to make sure that their hosted or cloud-based phone provider has an open policy. This will help ease the transition if, and when, such companies need to port their directory numbers to a new provider.

Today, more and more businesses seek to provide users with unified communications (UC), creating a seamless integration for all of the ways people communicate with each other (chat, voice, SMS, web-conferencing, mobile, email and, yes, fax). UC can provide a significant number of benefits for IT Departments, employees, customers, and a business as a whole. To implement it, you have to go beyond PBX. Practically speaking, hosted solutions are probably the fastest and least expensive way to deploy what is rapidly becoming the standard for business communications.

 

Microsoft, Excel, and Skype are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.


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