3 Easy Steps to Migrate a Toll-Free Number to the Cloud

Guest Blog by Caitlin Long, Product Marketing Manager & Kate Conner, Content Manager at Bandwidth

3 Easy Steps to Migrate a Toll-Free Number to the Cloud

Welcome to the second piece in our Cloud Migration Best Practices series. Having owned and operated a nationwide all-IP voice network for more than a decade, we’ve seen a lot of our customers migrate their telephony from on-prem to the cloud. Since customer service and co-creation is part of who we are at Bandwidth, we’ve been in the trenches with our customers, and felt their pain as they’ve migrated. In this series, we outline the biggest migration challenges we’ve seen over and over, and share what you can do to avoid them.

The second challenge in our series is a problematic implementation caused by hesitancy and half-measures. It’s what happens when well-intended caution backfires.

Half-measure: Forwarding high-profile numbers to the cloud

In a nutshell: It can cause your high-profile toll-free number to go down.

Sometimes businesses with high-profile toll-free numbers (TFNs) decide the risk for disruption is too high to port those numbers to their cloud platform. (For more info on migration porting headaches and how to eliminate them, see our first post.) As a work-around, most major Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) platforms and some Conferencing solutions offer the option to forward traffic from a TFN to a group of local numbers (TNs), so porting those high-profile numbers isn’t necessary. Fine in theory, potentially disastrous in practice, often leading to downtime for the very toll-free number you’re trying to protect.

Why doesn’t it work?

When you opt to forward instead of port your toll-free number, platforms typically offer blocks of your unused local TN’s to carry the traffic. You pick your block of TNs (which generally reside in one or two local markets), and start using your forwarded toll-free number through the cloud platform. The problem is that this provisioning process, within the cloud platform, is a manual one, so if toll-free traffic spikes, the number of endpoints don’t react accordingly unless a human goes in and makes adjustments.

You see, while the CCaaS providers’ cloud offerings are scalable, the local PSTN isn’t—and was never built to be. So when a local PSTN market isn’t prepared for the volume of traffic that suddenly forwards, local market outages can occur. Now, that’s a lot of telecom-speak… think about it this way:

It’s like traffic in Austin

Picture all the highways and roads in Austin, Texas. There are a ton—enough to handle all the traffic in the city. The infrastructure is substantial, but finite, just like the capacity of the local PSTN. Now imagine that all the cars that travel those Austin roads are concurrent calls. Everything runs fine, even when it’s busy. Until one day, all of the white cars in the United States get dropped into Austin, Texas. The city can’t handle it, and everything gridlocks. That’s what happens when large organisations with high-profile toll-free numbers forward nationwide toll-free traffic to a block of local TNs. And that’s why your toll-free number goes down.

Why It’s Potentially Disastrous

We don’t mean to be dramatic, but there are three big problems with this kind of market outage, all of which impact your bottom line:

  1. Lost revenue: When people can’t call, they can’t buy.
  2. Poor customer experience: When people can’t get help when they need it, they leave—and often tell their friends.
  3. If you don’t see it, you don’t fix it. This is the kicker. If an entire market went down, you’d see it and address it. But what if only one of the supporting markets went down? How long would it be before you realised there had been an outage? How many missed calls, disgruntled customers, and lost revenue would it take before you figured it out?

The most costly problem is the one you aren’t aware of

The Solution: A Phased Migration With No Downtime

The operational challenges and complexities of a cloud migration are real—but there’s a way to migrate your telephony to the cloud without disrupting your business. Bandwidth recommends an informed, 3-phased migration that gets you to the CCaaS provider of your choice smoothly, on your terms and timeline.

  1. Establish a concurrent cloud-enabled SIP trunk. This establishes a redundant path that enables uninterrupted service for the next step – porting the numbers. It’s a simple, but critical first step
  2. Port the toll-free number to Bandwidth. With a cloud-enabled SIP trunk in place, there will be no disruption of traffic because it’s simply changing the trunk route. Say hello t no-downtime porting. Why Bandwidth specifically? A couple of biggies:
    1. Because most of the phone numbers in North America that have migrated to the cloud are Bandwidth TNs. We power the cloud apps you’re moving to, so proactively plugging in a Bandwidth trunk and porting to Bandwidth numbers sets you up for instantaneous provisioning and precisely-managed migrations
    2. We have the Happiest Porting in the industry, and are pretty freaking good at it. We’ve ported TFNs for a market-leading conferencing provider that were carrying live conferencing traffic at the time of port, and didn’t miss a beat
  3. Configure primary and redundant forwarding at the IP layer, not by phone number, using the software routing capabilities in the Bandwidth Dashboard

BONUS: By following these steps, you avoid the one-way door of locking yourself into one platform. Since we’re the cloud native carrier behind most major CCaaS and UCaaS platforms, you can easily move between platforms. That way when mergers and acquisitions happen, strategic direction shifts, or the next round of organisational changes occur, you won’t have to navigate all this red tape all over again.

There’s no need to resort to fear-based half-measures. You’ve invested in a scalable communications solution, and your telephony should follow suit. With the right information and the right partner, you can step confidently into the cloud. For more information about how Bandwidth gives businesses the control and flexibility to manage their telecom at scale, visit our website.

When you Migrate to the Cloud, You Can Break 911


Caitlin Long (left), Kate Conner

Caitlin Long (left), Kate Conner

Guest Blog by Caitlin Long, Product Marketing Manager & Kate Conner, Content Manager at Bandwidth
Bandwidth delivers cloud-ready voice, text messaging, and 9-1-1 built for the enterprise. We work with some of the biggest brands in the world to disrupt industries, create new products, and change the way people communicate.


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