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Frequently Asked Questions
Toll-Free Numbers

  1. Is there any difference between 800, 888, 877, and 866 toll-free service?
    Answer: No. Calls using either 866, 877, 888, or 800 numbers are all toll-free calls.

  2. If a company has an 800 number, can I also reach them by calling the 888, 877, or 866 equivalent?
    Answer: No. Toll free codes are separate and distinct. Different companies may have the same phone number, but with different toll free codes.

  3. How are toll-free numbers assigned to subscribers? How can I get a toll-free number?
    Answer: Toll-free numbers are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Entities called Responsible Organizations ("RespOrgs"), which are usually toll-free service providers or carriers, have access to a database that contains information regarding the satus of all toll-free numbers. Someone wanting to obtain a toll-free number should contact their carrier or RespOrg. RespOrgs can access the database and reserve a number for subscribers. (Note: the Commission does not have access to the database and cannot provide any information regarding the status (e.g., if the number is reserved, working, or in "unavailable" status) of any particular toll-free number).

  4. I've heard that toll-free numbers are portable; what does that mean?
    Answer: Portability means that toll-free subscribers can change carriers without having to obtain a new toll-free number. Subscribers may also change Responsible Organizations if they choose to do so (For a discussion of Responsible Organizations see question 3,above).

  5. What is the Commission's role in the market for toll-free services?
    Answer: The Commission only regulates or sets the rules under which toll-free numbers can be used or obtained. The Commission is not involved in the day-to-day allocation of toll-free numbers and does not have access to the toll-free database. For example, in CC Docket No. 86-10 (Provision of Access for 800 Service), the Commission promulgated rules that made toll-free numbers portable so subscribers could change carriers without changing numbers.

  6. Has the Commission issued any rulemakings regarding toll-free numbers?
    Answer: Yes. On October 5, 1995, the Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Toll-free Service Access Codes, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC Rcd 10 13962 (released October 5, 1995)) to address issues regarding the efficient, fair, and equitable allocation of toll-free numbers. Subsequent to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Common Carrier Bureau, acting on delegated authority, issued a Report and Order (Toll-free Service Access Codes, Report and Order, 11 FCC Rcd 2496 (released January 25, 1996)) that addressed those issues crucial to the opening of the 888 code for toll-free calling. On April 11, 1997, the Commission released a Second Report and Order addressing issues pertaining to the efficient, fair, and equitable allocation of toll-free numbers. On October 9, 1997, the Commission released a Third Report and Order addressing issues relating to toll free database administration. On March 31, 1998, the Commission released a Fourth Report and Order ( erratum ) addressing the issue of vanity-number assignment. Some issues raised in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking remain unaddressed, and the proceeding is still open. On July 5, 2000, the Commission released a Fifth Report and Order in the matter of Toll Free Service Access Codes, Database Services Management, Inc.'s Petition for Declaratory Ruling, and Beehive Telephone Company's Petition for Declaratory Ruling. CC Docket No. 95-155, NSD File No. L-99-87, NSD File No. L-99-88. [Word] | [Text]

  7. How can I stay informed of any decisions by the FCC regarding toll-free numbers?
    Answer: If you have access to the internet, you can follow all FCC actions by accessing the FCC's homepage at http://www.fcc.gov. The Daily Digest is a listing of all announcements, decisions, or actions by the Commission for a particular day. Any decision regarding toll-free numbers will be listed on the Daily Digest. Within the FCC's internet site, the Common Carrier Bureau, which regulates interstate telephone services, has its own homepage. The Common Carrier Bureau's site contains up-to-date information on toll-free numbers on a home page just for toll free service. If you do not have access to the internet, you can obtain the Daily Digest through our fax-on-demand service by calling (202) 418-2830.

  8. Can I reserve a number from the Commission or find out if a particular number that I want is available?
    Answer: No. The Commission does not have access to the toll-free database and, therefore, cannot reserve or check the status of any number. If you want to know the status of any number you should contact a Responsible Organization (usually a carrier, see question 3, above). For a list of all RespOrgs go to [SMS/800].

  9. I want a particular toll-free number, and someone has offered to sell it to me. Can people buy and sell numbers?
    Answer: No. In the Second Report and Order released on April 11, 1997, the Commission took several actions to conserve toll free number and make them available to subscribers. The Commission concluded that the practices of hoarding and brokering toll free numbers are not in the public interest and that parties that hoard and broker numbers will be subject to penalties.

  10. Are there any operational changes I need to make to prepare my business for toll-free 877 service?
    Answer: You may need to contact your PBX vendor to ensure that all toll free code calls can originate from your system.

  11. Can I still get toll-free directory assistance through "1-800-555-1212"?
    Answer: Yes. Toll-free directory assistance for 800, 888, and 877 numbers can be obtained by calling "1-800-555-1212."

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last updated 7/23/98