Avoiding Issues with Number Ports

June 7, 2017 Collaboration

A potentially stressful component of working with a communications system is the process of porting numbers.  Number ports operate under the rules of telecommunications carriers and are often a one-way process.  In other words, if things don’t work after the port, it can be impossible to back out to the condition prior to the port.  There are some good ways to avoid issues with ports, and I would strongly advise following them.

Circuits: If there are data circuits involved with the ports, such as when a SIP circuit is involved, treat them separately.  Schedule a time with the carrier to activate and test these circuits.  Make sure that any routing, which will be needed for the SIP trunks, is in place and is working.  I would not schedule this activity on the same day as the activation of the SIP trunks.  That way you have a day dedicated to data circuit issues and a day dedicated to SIP trunk issues.

SIP Trunk Activation:  This is the process of setting things up to use the logical SIP connection between the session border controllers.  In this step, all the SIP parameters are configured in the system and test numbers are used to verify operation.  This is probably the most important step in the process.  If you identify and fix any issues at this point, the porting of the numbers should be straight forward.

PRI installations follow a similar process, but the physical circuit and the PRI are the same.  This means that there is only one activation and testing phase.  PRIs are becoming less used over time, but they are still implemented.

Porting the Numbers:  The final phase of the process is the actual port.  At this point, the losing carrier will port the numbers over to the winning carrier.  This process is handled by the carriers involved and there isn’t anything for the customer to do.  Once the number port is completed it is important to test a sampling of the numbers ported to make sure there were no issues with the port.

So, what are the potential pitfalls throughout this process?  One of the first is the potential lack of understanding between the customer and the carrier.  Carriers all have their own terminology for data circuits, sip trunks, redundancy, etc.  It is critically important that the customer understand what is being proposed by the carrier.  Missing a technical term can affect redundancy, 911, and other important issues.  Taking the time to dig into the design is well worth the effort.  Another potential issue is misunderstanding the time frames involved.  Carriers have processes that must be completed prior to the next process being started.  There are also time windows for these processes to get scheduled.  For example, it may be necessary to complete the data circuit activation prior to scheduling the SIP activation, as well as completing the SIP activation prior to the porting.  Lack of understanding of this process can lead to deadlines being missed.

Porting numbers doesn’t have to be stressful.  If things are carefully planned and tested ahead of time, the actual port should go smoothly – saving you from wasting time and enduring a headache.


Curtis brings over 25 years of collaboration experience to ABS. As the Collaboration Team Manager, Curtis works to ensure that ABS is consistently providing the latest collaboration technology and support to ABS clients.