Toll-Free Numbers in 2019: Update on the Secondary Market

Around this time last year we looked at the potential for changes in the rules governing toll-free numbers and how they are allocated. While it took a little longer than some expected, the FCC recently confirmed that its highly-anticipated auction of 833 numbers is in the works. The primary factors in this decision include:

  • Ensure that high-value 833 numbers are awarded to those with the most potential to invest in and benefit from those numbers.
  • Allow all parties an opportunity to find and bid on a memorable toll-free number that could boost their business.
  • Reserve specific 833 numbers that are required for government and non-profit entities, primarily for health and safety uses.
  • Gather revenue that can be used to defray the cost of managing toll-free numbers and reduce the cost of numbering across the board.

Although no date has been set for the auction, the announcement has prompted a renewed focus on how the industry will evolve in 2019 and the future of a full secondary market for toll-free numbers to emerge.   Toll Free Numbers in 2019  

Planning for the Secondary Market

The Future of Toll-Free Numbers in 2019

Unsurprisingly, the secondary market for toll-free numbers was a hot topic at last month's Somos Toll-Free User Summit. RingBoost's own VP of Business Development, Paul Faust, took part in a panel discussion on the subject of toll-free numbers in 2019, covering everything from the immediate impact of the auction to the longer term opportunities for the various players in the toll-free and wider telecom sector. "I think the secondary market is probably one of the biggest futures for the toll-free market," said Paul. "We have business owners every day that come to our company looking for numbers to license, but they don't want to license, they want to own." He continued: "These owners want to be able to build brand value into their numbers. The secondary market allows them to do that, to invest in and develop these brands based on a memorable toll-free number."

  Update on the Future of Toll-Free Numbers in 2019 - TFUS2018  

Some of the other key takeaways from the panel include:  

  • Changes Will Be Incremental - A free market for toll-free numbers is the way forward, but it has to be developed step-by-step. The potential exists for the market to be flooded with numbers and create chaos, which is why experiments like the 833 auction are valuable to set limitations and establish new ground rules for the industry.
  • Opportunities for All - The secondary marketplace that emerges should mean more numbers on the market, which in turn drives increased demand for ancillary services that come around those numbers. Entrepreneurs and business owners are dynamic; a more open marketplace will drive greater innovation and new business models.
  • It's Not About Vanity, It's About Voice - Our industry is about to become much more than custom numbers. Marketing to drive more calls is something that too many businesses overlook right now. New technologies that prioritize voice and calls are emerging at the same time as the secondary market, which is likely to lead to a renaissance for this form of marketing.
  • Increased Brand Investment - When we own something, we're willing to spend more to improve it. Licensing toll-free numbers limits potential revenue for a wide range of services, but the ability to own toll-free numbers means more money allocated to our
  • Experts are Essential - Change always raises question marks for an industry, but that only makes those with expertise in that arena even more valuable. Anyone with years in the business will be sought after, both as a general guide to navigate the market and an advisor to keep people away from the unscrupulous players found in any emerging business model.

  Paul sums up the discussion with a simple statement that encapsulates the potential value of the secondary market for toll-free numbers: "Ultimately, the best number for the client is not the number I have, it's the exact number the client wants to build their brand on. By opening up the secondary market, when somebody comes to us for a number, I want it to be the last call they make."   2019 is going to be a crucial year for marketers and the toll-free industry. Big changes are coming and knowing what's in store will help your business to get a jump on the competition. Stay tuned to our Linkedin and Facebook feeds or sign up to our e-mail newsletter below to keep up to date with the latest news. [contact-form-7 id="6093" title="Email Signup"]

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