(WASHINGTON, D.C. April 2, 1998) - The third nationwide toll-free code -- 877 -- debuts this Sunday, April 5 at noon, Central time, joining 800 and 888.
Introduction of 877 was coordinated by the SMS/800 Numbering Administration Committee (SNAC) of the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS). Two additional ATIS committees, the Industry Numbering Committee (INC) and the Network Interoperability and Interconnection Forum (NIIF), also contributed to this effort, by respectively assigning the series of codes for toll free numbers (888, 877, 866 etc...) and performing extensive network testing. ATIS is a Washington-based industry group that creates national network standards and operating guidelines for the telecommunications industry.
The mission of ATIS's SMS/800 Number Administration Committee is to identify, develop and implement the resolution of issues focused on the support of the 800/Service Management System (SMS)*. SNAC creates the industry guidelines for administration of the SMS. Because early industry projections suggest that the 877 code will approach depletion in less than two years, the SNAC is already considering the introduction of a fourth and fifth toll free code -- 866 and 855 -- in about 18 months.
The SNAC prepared the 877 Implementation Plan with a focus on maintaining a controlled 877 roll out. In preparation for the 877 opening, the SNAC addressed numerous issues involving potential system and customer impacts. Examples of issues addressed by the group include the ability of the Database to handle the opening of all 877 NXX codes at once; the handling of multiple requests for numbers received simultaneously and the permitted reservation period for 877 toll free numbers (the reservation period is the time from when a number is reserved for a customer in the Database and when the number is activated for that customer). The scheduling of other events that may impact the Database (such as mass change updates and Numbering Plan Area ( NPA) splits/conversions) were also taken into consideration.
Toll free number codes are widely used by businesses and individuals to receive incoming calls at no charge to the caller. There are about 8 million numbers in each of the three toll free number codes and they serve callers in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Thousands of telephone switching offices were re-programmed to recognize the new 877 number and properly direct calls to a database so that the call can be completed. Telephone company -- local and long distance -- billing systems also were modified so that the calls are identified as toll free.
Toll free numbers have become increasingly popular since the 800 number was introduced in 1967. The supply of 800 numbers lasted almost 30 years until March 1996, when, for the most part, they were used up. The 888 code, in telephone jargon, the 888 NPA, went into service on March 1, 1996.
"The work done to implement this third nationwide toll free number is a prime example of the cooperation this highly competitive industry can achieve working through the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions," George L. Edwards, ATIS president, said. "Our committees bring together experts to ensure that critical network standards and operations guidelines are developed to keep our country's network of networks the most reliable in the world."
ATIS is a unique industry organization, with more than 2500 participants including, but not limited to, telecommunications service providers and providers of operations support, enhanced service providers, manufacturers and software developers. Its committees are responsible for network reliability analysis, creating United States network interconnection standards, standards for wood poles, guidelines for testing networks and for ordering and billing of access services among competing carriers. Its committees also address bar coding for inventory of telecommunications products and implementation agreements for SONET networks, among others.
Additional details about the SNAC, as well as the work of other ATIS committees, are available on the ATIS home page at www.atis.org.
* The SMS is a computer system that enables Responsible Organizations (RespOrgs) to enter and amend data about the tool free numbers within their control. RespOrgs are entities chosen by a toll free subscriber to manage and administer the subscribers' records on the SMS.
For more information, contact Sally Mott Freeman.