TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: How Is a Number Switched (AT&T to Vonage)?

How Is a Number Switched (AT&T to Vonage)?

Dennis G. Rears (
Wed, 11 May 2005 22:36:54 -0400

I switched from my local phone service to Vonage in January. I am
completely happy with the service and have had no problem with it. I
was able to keep my number and the transfer took only 20 days. I
recommended the service to my dad and he switched. He had a lot of
problems with the number transfer.

He had AT&T for both local and long distance. I don't have the
exact dates so I will make them up. On day 22 of his service his
phone jacks went dead and he was informed via email that the
switchover of his phone number to Vonage had taken place. The problem
is/was that if anyone outside of Vonage called him, they would get the
message that the phone number was disconnected. Since I am on Vonage,
I was able to call him with his original phone number. The number was
(856) 23X-XXX. This persisted for 18 days. I suspect the problem is
not with Vonage but with the entity that manages the North American
databases. Can someone explain to me what the technical process is
for switching over and what may have happened?


P.S. This is my first post to the Telecom digest in a decade. Hi
Pat, I'm glad that you are still moderating this forum. BTW, you
might remember me as

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I sure do remember you, Dennis! While
you were around here before in the early/middle 1990's you started a
mailing list of your own on computer privacy. I remember helping you
get it started. (_BIG_ hug!) What have you been doing with yourself
since 1994-95? Whatever happened with your computer privacy mailing
list? And yes, I am still around, as thick-skinned as ever, maybe
even more radical than before. I know some of these guys will be
_so happy_ to see me die or otherwise retire; they'll be able to get
back to business as usual. In the meantime, yeah I am still here,
and please don't stay away for another decade (another big hug!) ...

But let's get on to your questions today: AT&T is not, never was a
_local_ telco or operating company. They got into the business of
local service doing like Prairie Stream, Gage, and several other
companies; they broker or lease all the equipment -- a UNI-P sort
of deal -- from whomever the 'carrier of record' is in your area. For
me here in southeast Kansas it is of course Southwestern Bell. So
when your father tried to 'port' his number over to Vonage, he had
to go through an extra step: He told AT&T (as a local carrier in this
instance) what he wanted; _they_ in turn had to tell the 'true' telco
in your area (SBC, I assume; they are gradually gobbling up the
entire world). In the Chinese telephone of him telling AT&T and AT&T
telling the local telco, I suspect someone 'misunderstod' what was
wanted. Assuming you were with a 'local carrier of record' all along,
that extra step of the UNI-P CLEC telling the ILEC what was wanted
was eliminated. Your father had it happen though.

You said 'his phone jacks went dead ...' (but apparently the telephone
adapter of Vonage continued to work). I suspect that your 'local ILEC
bozos of record' either accidentally on on purpose failed to send
(yet further) notice on this to the administrators of the records and
tables for the North American Numbering Plan. To all the telephone
central offices of the world, when they loaded the tables with the
revised information, father no longer existed because ILEC showed it
as a disconnect rather than a transfer. When telephone users attempted
to reach your father, _their_ central office looked in its tables and
and said he no longer existed. How did you find out the problem? You
may have tried from your bozo-co landline (if you still have one) and
got the not in service message, then you tried from your Vonage line
and got through just fine.

I had that happen to me once. I tried at my office (using our default
carrier, Illinois Bozo-co) to reach a number in a small town in
northern Wisconsin. I got intercepted repeatedly. Then I tried it
again, but dialing 10222 first (MCI) and got through okay. Ditto
Sprint. The lady I spoke to in the Wisconsin town told me that 'often
times my friends in the Chicago area cannot reach me'; she did not
know why. I chatted with one of Bozo's service reps; she said she
thought she knew the problem, but would have someone call me back a
bit later. In about 30 minutes, I got a call from a guy who works for
AT&T who was in Denver, CO. I told him about the various reps who had
been unwilling to listen to me or help. He said he knew about those
things (either missing table entries or typographical errors in the
tables which get sent out to all the central offices) and "they will
listen to me, they will do as I say; try again after about 2 AM
tomorrow morning when the new tables get downloaded; it will get
corrected." I did _not_ get up at 2 AM to test it (after all, I am no
longer a kid who lays awake all night to play with my [or other guy's]
phones), but when I did try it the next day, yes, it worked just fine,
on the various carriers as well as my default Illinois Bozo-Co.)

You said 'the problem persisted for 18 days' and I assume you mean
that after 18 days everyone could get through once again, regardless
of the bozo -- err -- carrier of record they chose to use. It
definitly sounds to me like an error when the tables got downloaded
(the night after your father was first notified that he had been
ported to Vonage.)

Vonage (all VOIP carriers actually) would be doing the world a big
favor by terminating an 800 number on their switch in their
office) which people could use to get into the 'Vonage system' (or
whichever VOIP) so people could make a call totally via Vonage to
test these things out as needed. Remember when cell phones had two
ways to reach 'roaming numbers'? You could try to dial direct into the
number and hope to get through _or_ you could dial a number in the
community where the person was roaming; the cellular switch assigned
the user a 'temporary local number' for that purpose. Maybe they
still do. Anyway Dennis, I hope this answered your question a little,
and please don't wait another decade before you write again. Your
freind, Patrick. PAT]

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