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North American Toll Free Service And Provisioning Overview
Toll Free Service Overview
The 800 Service Management System (SMS/800) is an operations support system (OSS) used for the creation and maintenance of North American toll-free call-processing records. SMS/800 is also the source of toll-free number availability and reservation status information. Many users call the 800 Service Management System the “National Database”.
All service providers that assign toll-free numbers for use within the US and Canada use the SMS/800 to verify the availability of specific numbers, reserve them, create customer records, and download records to local exchange carrier Service Control Points (SCPs) to facilitate call processing.
New Customer Records (CRs) and changes to existing CRs are loaded into the SMS/800 by a Responsible Organization (Resp Org). The Resp Org (usually a telecommunications provider) is an organization designated to manage and administer a customer’s SMS/800 records. Resp Org’s must go through a certification process to gain access to the national database.
After the CR is created or changed SMS/800 then downloads the appropriate information to the Service Control Points (SCPs) which directs toll-free traffic by providing routing information and carrier identification. The CR contains the call handling instructions and options chosen by the customer. These options could include choosing multiple carriers (e.g. Verizon or Qwest) for different time periods or routing calls to alternative destinations.
Toll Free Provisioning
Currently, there are 200+ Resp Orgs which input data into the SMS/800. There are four basic methods of provisioning (inputting, changing, or creating) this data:
Mechanized Generic Interface (MGI)
Some MGI users are large telecommunications providers (e.g. AT&T). Others Resp Orgs purchase access to sophisticated front-end systems that increase their toll free provisioning users efficiency. In each case, as the user sets up customer records, the record is automatically transferred, via the MGI, to SMS/800.
The MGI is connected to the SMS/800 by a high-speed data link (56kbps) or frame relay (64k). Resp Orgs may search for and reserve numbers, as well as create or update customer records, through the MGI.
The primary benefit of MGI access is that a user can update hundreds or thousands of toll free numbers with powerful on-line mass change commands (with no need for tapes or email to the help desk.)
Batch tape users write customer record data onto a digital tape. The tape is then physically sent to the SMS/800 production site (e.g. via US mail) where it is loaded into the SMS/800. Resp Orgs may create or update customer records by batch tape, but they cannot reserve numbers by batch tape. Due to the real-time nature of number reservations, those activities are handled online.
Online Access (3270 Terminal Emulation)
Online users access the SMS/800 via a dedicated private line which is generally a 9.6kbps link, or via dial-up facilities. Resp Orgs may search for and reserve numbers, as well as create or update customer records through online access. Most updates are made to a single toll free number at a time.
Web Based Access (WBA)
Internet users access the SMS/800 via a dedicated line or a dial-up connection to an Internet Service Provider. Most updates are made to a single toll free number at a time.
Overview of Basic Toll Free Provisioning Activities
The SMS/800 provides three basic support functions: 1) number search and reservation; 2) customer record creation and modification; and 3) reports generation.
- Toll Free Number Search/Reservation
- Customer Record Creation And Modification
- Reports Generation
The Resp Org can search for available ten digit toll-free numbers that reside within the database. Random searches and pattern matching (for vanity numbers) are available.
A Resp Org can reserve a spare number for a maximum period of 45 days . Reserved toll-free numbers not activated within 45 days will be converted from reserved status and returned to the pool of spare numbers.
The maximum quantity of toll-free numbers a Resp Org can have in reserve status at any given time is equal to 8 percent of its working numbers or 2,000 numbers, whichever is greater.
The Resp Org may create and modify customer records in the SMS/800 and schedule the date and time the records are to be activated at the SCPs. SMS/800 also supports a variety of special capabilities intended to allow the Resp Org and the subscriber to administer, monitor, and control the traffic associated with the toll-free number.
Numerous administrative and exception reports are available.
The SMS/800 downloads information to the Service Control Points (SCPs), as appropriate. There are approximately 20 mated pairs of SCPs spread throughout the United States and Canada. The SMS/800 is connected to the SCPs by data links.
This article provides an overview of North American Toll Free Service Provisioning. Concepts covered include the national database, Customer Records, Resp Orgs, Service Control Points, Access Technologies (MGI, Batch Tape, 3270, Web) and Search/Reserve, CR Creation and Modification, and Reports.
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